Pirate Radio Stations in the 1960s and 1970s Britain (with reference to recent cultural production)

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In this essay I will explain the main reasons because of which pirate radio stations became popular and important in Great Britain, as well as the reasons for their manifestation. I will analyze the main features of this movement and the way they influenced radio broadcasting in general, its impact on a generation in need of fresh, new things in every aspect of their lives. Focusing on two decades of twentieth century Britain, as the most lucrative and important for pirate radio, I will explore the governments stances on this issue then, as well as now, and the importance of pirate radio stations today and the way they are represented in other popular media.


From the 1920s most of Britain’s territory was covered by the signal and radio program of BBC which was providing quality informative and educational programs in accordance with Reithian principles. “...under the control of Lord Reith, the programmes shied away from being too popularist. Lord Reith felt that, whilst the public wanted popular entertainment, it was not necessarily what was good for them.”

The Continental Stations (http://radio.eric.tripod.com/the_continental_stations.htm) However, times were changing, and the BBC’s program did not meet all of the needs of the youth generation, especially when music programs are discussed. The BBC did not provide a regular output of popular music, the only radio program of that kind was “Hit Parade” which was on air once per week.

“The only real outlet for listeners to hear all the new records was Radio Luxembourg and many British listeners tuned into Radio Luxembourg (The Great 208), but that was only available in the evenings and the signal would often fade or become distorted as the nigh...

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...g offshore radio stations and supplying offshore radio stations from the coast of Britain. After this law was passed the government started enforcing the laws previously passed, banning pirate radio in the Thames’ Estuary. This was seemingly the end of offshore radio in Britain, because Radio Caroline disregarded it and continued to broadcast, even though they knew that they won’t be able to do it for long because of troubles with finances. Since they could not be supplied by Britain, they turned to the Dutch, where they accumulated a great debt and ended up impounded by the supplying firm.

Even though the new laws prevented ships from effectively transmitting their signals, the pirate radio would not disappear that easily. From ships and and decks, pirates moved to urban locations, although some stations still managed to transmit from ships during the 1970s.

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