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    Monday, 23 April 2007

    Shiver me timbers

    Ofcom estimates in its new report on illegal radio that there are 150 pirate radion stations broadcasting in the UK, more than half of which are in London. But whilst community radio enthusiasts argue strongly that such stations can provide a valid service to unserved communities, Ofcom is involved in over 1000 separate operations investigating the stations per year, and in 2006 there were 63 convictions. Ofcom's response is robust: pirate radio stations must be closed because they interfere with safety of life radio services such as air traffic control.
    In the long history of pirate radio in the UK, spectrum scarcity has excluded non-establishment voices (think of Radio Caroline in the 1960s) many of which later became mainstream. A paper shortly to be published by Dr Bart Cammaerts of the Media Department here at LSE takes a broader view looking at the battle for community Radio internationally, and what he sees as the success of Ofcom's access radio licences issued under the Communications Act 2003. He argues that there is a need for more recognition of community radio. But surely the game has shifted with more widespread diffusion of broadband and on-demand channels. When dealing with the claims of the local television lobby, Ofcom and others are likely to say that they dont need spectrum but should develop broadband services. Are they right? and is community radio so different?

    1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    Interestingly, 'pirate' radio has been getting a fair amount of (positive) recognition in the papers of late, admittedly mostly on the back of the Ofcom review. See, for example:
    - 'One wrong word can create war'

    - Pirates win listeners with non-English broadcasts

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