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Commercial radio lobby

The 1930’s stations which beamed programmes from continental land based transmitters to Britain had demonstrated that there was a demand for commercially funded, popular entertainment as an alternative to the staid BBC output.

The outbreak of World War 2 brought an abrupt end to these transmissions and, apart from Radio Luxembourg, none of the commercial stations returned to the air after the end of the War because many European governments introduced regulations giving their ‘state broadcasters’ monopoly rights over the airwaves.

However, there were businessmen looking for ways to establish commercial radio stations, in particular to serve Britain -  the largest potential market in Europe. During the post-war years of the late 1940’s  and early 1950’s plans were being pursued to launch commercial stations from either the Irish Republic or the Isle of Man to serve Britain, and this was part of a growing lobby for the introduction of commercial broadcasting (TV and radio) within the UK..

Amongst thoC O Stanleyse keen to pursue commercial broadcasting in the UK wPye logoas the Chairman of the Pye group - Charles Orr Stanley. His company  was one of the interested parties trying to persuade the Irish government to introduce commercial television in Ireland  and to licence a powerful radio transmitter to serve the UK. The Pye company was also actively negotiating with the Isle of Man Government about the introduction of a high powered radio transmitter to serve the UK. The company was interested in operating a national and local network of stations serving the UK

Another interested party was Gordon McLendon, who ownGordon McLendoned many radio stations in the USA and offered a similar proposal to the Irish government. However, he withdrew plans when the Irish authorities constantly delayed a decision over the introduction of a commercial television service. A third interested party was Frenchman, Charles Murchison who operated cross border radio stations in Andorra, Monte Carlo and Germany. McLendon  later became involved in the Scandinavian offshore station, Radio Nord and  was one of the backers and main advisers to Radio London.

The lobby for commercially funded broadcasting in Britain was partly appeased with the introduction of Independent Television (ITV) in 1955. However, there was still a demand for a similar service in radio. In 1960 the British GoverPilkington Committee Reportnment set up the Pilkington Committee (under the chairmanship of industrialist Sir Harry Pilkington) to look into the future of broadcasting generally in the UK. In its final report, published in June 1962, the Committee concluded (wrongly) that the British public  did not want commercial radio and it went on to suggest that the BBC should introduce a network of local stations to stifle the need for local commercial radio.

The expected outcome of the Pilkington Committee inquiry was that it would favour the introduction of commercially funded radio and by the time the Committee’s report was published there were over 100 companies registered to bid for the anticipated commercial radio licences. The Committee’s final conclusion - the complete opposite of what had been expected - seemed to dash the hopes of these companies that commercial radio would ever be introduced into Britain. Some accepted the situation, but others looked to finding another way of introducing commercial radio - attention turned offshore !

C O Stanley

Gordon McLendon

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