Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pirate radio

Lawrence Lessig’s ideas about the relationship between creativity and the laws governing media made me think of pirate radio in the UK. The UK strictly controls (or tries to) the number of radio stations on the airwaves. But in between the strong FM signals of the legal stations, you find hundreds of weaker signals from illegal pirate stations. These stations play cutting-edge new music produced in home studios, and have a strong relationship with the club scene. Music genres such as house, jungle and UK garage (AKA urban) were all nurtured by pirate radio. Some legal stations in London, such as Kiss FM, began their life as pirates. Artists such as Dizzee Rascal got a foot in the door via pirate stations. More and more pirate stations spring up all the time, risking huge fines and confiscation of their radio transmitters by a scary agency called the DTI.

I find it interesting that so much creative output comes from a country with such repressive media laws. The repression itself seems to foment the constant bubbling up of new sounds from the housing estates and suburban back rooms of Britain.

Bouncing the illegal broadcasters off the overcrowded airwaves,,1711794,00.html

this is one that has stayed one step ahead of the DTI since 1999 (and you can listen to a live stream):


Blogger Luke said...

I'm interested in why (relatively) tight regulation of the airwaves counts as "repressive". I think there are all sorts of things that are a skewed in the UK's media governance, but I wouldn't describe it as repressive. Would be interested to hear you elaborate on that...

August 16, 2007 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger Andrew Flaws said...

I think the UK laws regarding pirate radio became quite "repressive" in response to Radio Caroline in the '60's (?). They invented a lot of laws in response to this pirate station. But Radio Hauraki here was in a similar boat and those guys also got met with similar hostility by authorities. Pirate radio is almost redundant in 2007. Anyone can stream a live online radio show which has a global audience. Also podcasting kind of replacing radio. I do a show on Fleet FM which is broadcast live and over the net but get requests each week to post the show as a podcast. On the topic, the net has also meant that live radio can easily be broadcast internationally. An example is Fleet FM being broadcast live in Wellington and there is talk of it being broadcast in Melbourne and London also.

September 16, 2007 at 1:54 PM  

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