Great little documentary on Pirate Radio in London, first broadcast around 1995 or so if the total fixation with all things Jungle is anything to go by. The documentary comes down pretty firmly on the side of the broadcasters and all the more admirable for doing it in their slightly stuffy voices. “From trip hop to handbag house” “it’s all very different from Radio Caroline” – all pronounced in perfect RP.
Nice bit in the third part of the documentary in which a police appears on a pirate radio station to talk about race relations and another nice little bit in which one of the Department of Trade Industry’s foot soldiers expresses sneaking admiration for the pirate broadcasters ingenuity, technical skills and determination.
However, it does reveal how little the ridiculous situation has changed. Authorities have been increasing their efforts to crack down on pirate radio stations in the UK. Now though it is the regulator Ofcom which is trotting out the tired old line that the broadcasts interfere with emergency service frequencies. In 2008 Ofcom raided 43 studios used by illegal stations and shut down 838 illegal transmitters. Even if technology is getting better, the pressure by big business on smaller illegal operations is getting stronger.
This top little documentary also highlights the fact that mainstream broadcasters are today operating at a level consistently below standards just over ten years ago. So as underground broadcasters hold the line, the mainstream ones deteriorate.