A socio-political analysis of offshore & cross-border broadcasting
The purpose of this site is to direct attention to a discussion Forum inviting contributions from as many people as possible. Unlike fan and hobby sites about broadcasting which usually fit under the slot of 'entertainment', this one is listed under 'education'.
Rather than examine the entertainment factor of offshore and cross-border broadcasting, we are concentrating upon the sociopolitical reasons for such undertakings. For instance, there was a major difference between the offshore stations of the Nineteen Sixties which broadcast from off the coastline of the island of Great Britain and the British Government licensed stations which began broadcasting from on land in the Nineteen Seventies. Although offshore broadcasting stations continued to transmit into the Nineteen Nineties, the original stations were not illegal operations under British law. A series of censorship laws that were first introduced on August 14, 1967, gradually declared them to be outlaws in the United Kingdom.
The main difference, the factor that made them free, was their self-regulatory ability to control their own broadcasting content, with the marketplace of listeners and sponsors being their only regulators. If the sponsors were offended then the revenue for the stations would cease, and therefore the listeners would not be served. One of the major differences between the offshore stations and the subsequent licensed stations, was the introduction of regulations forbidding freedom of speech and expression. Political and religious speech was tightly controlled and the sale of sponsored airtime under the American system, was/is forbidden.
A classic example of socio-political speech from British offshore radio is to be found wrapped inside the American religious broadcasts called The World Tomorrow. Outwardly these all-speech broadcasts were intended to appear secular in approach, with Art Gilmore (who was the announcer for Amos and Andy and Highway Patrol shows), performing the intro and outro. In between came the voices in English (the program was also heard in other languages), of either Herbert W. Armstrong, or his son Garner Ted Armstrong.
When their spoken message was combined with the texts that which appeared in their own look-alike combination of Time / US News & World Report news magazine called The Plain Truth, a lot of their message sounded like that of Nigel Farage and UKIP. There are pointers to show that perhaps through their managing attorney Stanley R. Rader, the Armstrong's organization had become a partial 'front' for the operations of the Central Intelligence Agency.
But if we look closer at the ships used by Radio Nord off Sweden; Radio Atlanta (Caroline South), and Radio England / Britain Radio, we do find a link back to the CIA and the clandestine operations masterminded by Robert F. Kennedy in his war against the USSR via its proxy state of Cuba.
Although operating under the original phase of the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act, in the 1980s, radio station Laser 558 did allow Charlie Wolf to begin political parodies of the kind not heard since Mike Ahern had engaged in the same sort of speech on the original Radio Caroline stations during the days before passage of the Marine Offences Act. Consequently, every effort was made, successfully, to close that station down at great expense to the UK taxpayers.
The employment of offshore broadcasting stations in order to bring about political change did not begin in Europe, it began in America with its stations aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter Courier. That vessel has been documented as operating for the Voice of America off Greece, but it seems to have had an earlier purpose to assist with the land-based CIA 'pirate' station dedicated to overthrowing the government of Guatemala.
The Offshore and Cross-Border Media Forum welcomes discussions about the differences between 'free radio' and government-controlled radio (including television and Internet.)
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Learn more about Mike Ahern, Charlie Wolf and other controversial offshore radio broadcasting personalities at the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame:
Read more about all of the many offshore radio broadcasting stations within the vast library of Offshore Echos magazine: