A French radio station that developed a massive cult following in Sussex has been taken off the air after being raided by communications watchdogs.
Paris-based station Fip built up a massively dedicated and diverse range of listeners in Brighton through the last decade after a mystery male fan grew so smitten with it he set up his own antenna to broadcast the station for the city from his home in Hanover.
Listeners ranging from politicians to shopkeepers grew fond of the station’s quirky range of music and lack of adverts or chat, which was broadcast on 98.5FM and 91FM.
Its popularity grew to such an extent that a special night was set up in homage and people began moving houses just so they could live in an area which could receive the broadcasts, resulting in a boom in property prices in certain areas.
But The Argus can reveal that following a complaint, the Office of Communications (Ofcom) raided the premises in Hanover and confiscated the transmitter, taking Fip off the airwaves in Sussex.
The mystery man behind Fip’s broadcasts in Brighton, believed to be a former radio engineer, could now face prosecution although Ofcom last night refused to comment on the legal status of the case.
A spokesman said: “We raided the station but we cannot go into the reasons why we did that. They were known to us before the raid. We also seized equipment but again we cannot go into what was taken.”
It is understood the raid took place because Ofcom wanted to investigate whether a breach of broadcasting regulations had taken place.
The move has sparked outrage and disappointment among the station’s legion of fans in Brighton, many of whom have written to The Argus in an attempt to discover what had happened to the radio station.
Susan Bentley, from Compton Avenue, Brighton, said: “This station is sorely missed – it brought a fresh musical perspective to our city.”
Jacquetta Benjamin, from St Michael’s Place, Brighton, said: “I am a pensioner living on my own and Fip was one of my few comforts.”
Brighton and Hove city councillor Bill Randall said: “I’ve been listening to Fip for around ten years now – it’s one of the perks of living here.”
Last night sources close to the man who set up the transmitter hoped that the radio station would be back on the air sooner rather than later.
They also claimed that talks were ongoing between the mystery transmitter and Ofcom to try to resolve the situation amicably.
The source said: “He’s hoping all of this dies down very soon so he can get it back on the airwaves. It’s hugely popular.”
Fip can still be listened to through its internet site radiofrance.fr/chaines/fip/endirect.