©   2014-2021 Offshore Radio Museum

Home Basement Ground Floor 1 Floor 2

                   State Monopolies and                    International Agreements (2)

                         International agreements

In addition to national government restrictions on who could provide broadcasting services the allocation of frequencies and transmitter powers were regulated by international agreement from quite early days.

A number of such agreements were made at conferences of the Union Internationale de Radiophonie (UIR):-

These agreements were designed initially to avoid technical chaos on the airwaves, particularly in Europe, but within a short time the agreements were being broken or ignored - even by signatories to the original treaties, leading to the very chaos they were intended to prevent.  

The 1948 Copenhagen Convention supposedly governed the use of radio frequencies after the Second World War and was most often quoted by governments and authorised broadcasters when accusing offshore stations of ‘pirating’ frequencies and breaking international agreements.

In fact when the Copenhagen Convention was signed seven countries (Austria, Iceland, Portugal, Spain, Luxembourg, Sweden and Turkey) refused to accept the frequencies which had been allocated to them. Further, by the time the first British offshore radio station arrived in 1964, seventeen countries who were signatories had still not fully ratified the agreement.

The cumulative effect of this was that by the mid 1960s between 300 and 500 radio stations in Europe were using frequencies without authorisation under the 1948 Copenhagen Convention. In this context the relatively small number of frequencies used (‘pirated’) by the offshore stations pales into insignificance and many offshore broadcasters drew attention to this situation in justifying their own use of a frequency which had not been allocated to them under the international agreement.

Despite the repeated  breaking of agreements all these controls made some sort of sense at the time  they were  introduced  -  radio is a very powerful medium, with the potential for a single station's broadcasts to reach many millions of listeners. The mere thought of anarchy on the airwaves was  sufficient stimulus for most governments in the 1920s and 1930s to impose tight controls over who would be permitted to engage in the business of transmitting radio (and later television) programmes within  their boundaries. Generally they opted to retain that right for themselves or for bodies over which they had overriding control.  

In some countries  the actual principle  of having commercially funded programmes was repudiated by governments and state monopoly  broadcasters  alike. In their view radio was considered too powerful a medium to be controlled by private businessmen and it was feared that profits would be maximised at the expense of programme standards - as, according to critics, had happened in the USA. Even in those countries which developed the hybrid of a state broadcasting service which accepted commercial advertising  the government-backed monopoly was usually protected from the introduction of a competitive private system by restrictive rules and regulations.

State Monopolies and International Agreements

Where       next ?



Back to


         Back    1    2     3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10    11    12    13   14   15   16      Next

State Monopolies and International Agreements

Taking  to Water early offshore days Challenging  the  State Monopolies State monopolies and international agreements Challenging the state monopolies 1 Taking to Water Early Offshore Days Almost  there ! Almost There!

Back to Gallery index

Why Go Offshore?