Radio station fails to see the funny side of Kay's Chorley FM

But the creator of Phoenix Nights had not bargained on the existence of a real radio station of the same name. A spat has now broken out between the not-for-profit community radio station, Chorley FM, and the television production company that makes Kay's sitcoms.

The name Chorley FM was made famous in The Services, which preceded That Peter Kay Thing and Phoenix Nights, Kay's sitcom set in a northern social club. The imaginary radio station, whose innuendo-filled catch phrases included "Coming in your ears", also featured in spin-off series.

The genuine Chorley FM, which won a local radio licence from Ofcom last week, is not amused and claims Phil McIntyre Entertainment, the production company that made the shows, tried to buy the station at a knock-down price.

The council-backed station is also unhappy that Phil McIntyre Entertainment has trademarked the Chorley FM logo.

The station has been inundated with requests for car stickers from Kay fans who do not realise there is a difference between the community service and its fictional counterpart. Aimed at 15- to 25-year-olds and in particular at the Lancashire town's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community, Chorley FM has transmitted on a temporary basis for the past six years.

The media regulator Ofcom last week granted the station a permanent licence to broadcast for the next five years. The service will launch in early 2006.

In a complicated twist, Kay's co-writer on Phoenix Nights, Dave Spikey, is Chorley FM's patron. Chris Mellor, cultural manager at Chorley Borough Council, said Phil McIntyre Entertainment had approached the community group a year ago and offered to buy the company and the name for just £80 - the cost of setting up an alternative company to house the radio station. The group declined the offer.

Mr Mellor added that they had invited Kay to take part in some of their community broadcasts, but said he had declined. A request this week for a meeting with Phil McIntyre Entertainment had also been turned down, he said.

Mr Mellor said: "They have just ignored what's going on locally and they have been looking to exploit it commercially. Peter Kay has got a pretty poor name locally. There was some talk of him moving in to the borough, but if he's seen to be ripping off the local station, he's not going to be very welcome."

A spokeswoman for Phil McIntyre Entertainment said it was a "misconception" that they were trying to buy the radio station. She said: "In 2004 we decided to trademark a 'Chorley FM' logo that Peter had been using in his shows since 1998; at the same time we tried to register the company name Chorley FM Ltd but discovered that a company had already been incorporated under that name in November 2001 [three years after Peter had begun using the logo].

"As their accounts had been dormant for two years we approached Chorley FM Ltd to inquire if they would be prepared to change their name so we could have that company name to tie in with our trademark and offered to pay associated costs. Obviously this didn't come to fruition and we continued with our trademark application of the logo, which we now have.

"Peter has been using the logo in his series for seven years and on merchandise for well over three years and as far as we're concerned we don't think that there is a 'situation' between Chorley FM and Phil McIntyre Entertainment."

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