Thursday, 20 October 2011

Shadow Falls on Sunrise Radio

The Guardian has reported that Sunrise Radio raised £160,000 for charity but let the money sit in a bank for seven years instead of donating it to charity. An investigation by the Charity Commision found that the money, which was donated by listeners, had accrued an extra £21,000 in interest whilst sitting in a bank account named Sunrise Radio South East Asia Disaster Appeal. The listeners first raised money after the 2004 tsunami and again after the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan.

Avtar Lit, the man who owns Sunrise Radio, said a presenter could not get a visa for Pakistan to deliver the money and also blamed the civil war in Sri Lanka. He now admits that he should have passed the money onto appropriate charities.

The Charity Commision have passed its findings to Ofcom, who may launch its own investigation. Ofcom has the power to revoke Sunrise Radio's broadcasting license, which means that the station could be taken off air.

In my own personal opinion it is stunts like this that prevent Asian music and Asian media from being taken seriously. A radio station that claims on its website that it is "the greatest Asian radio station in the world" has a responsibility to be open about its activity, especially where listeners' money is concerned. It seems Avtar Lit is claiming this was an honest mistake. But I would like to know how the presenter was going to distribute the money if he had got the visa to go there? Give it to charities in Pakistan or ask those in need to form an orderly line? Trust and loyalty are very important things in Radio. I am not a regular listener of the station, but if I was I would be very hesitant to donate any money to charity via Sunrise again.

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