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Radio Veronica 1970’s History (4)

1970

Early in 1970 Radio Veronica experienced competition from a new offshore radio station anchored off the Netherlands coast – RNI (Radio Northsea International).  RNI broadcast throughout the spring and summer of 1970 (during that time the station was based off the British coast for a few months) with programmes at first in German and English, but the German language programmes were discontinued after the first few weeks.

At the end of February 1970 Dirk Verweij was ‘dismissed’ as Managing Director of NV Sonora (the managing partner of Veronica CV), leaving his brothers Bull and Jaap in sole charge of the station.

Radio Veronica celebrated its 10th birthday in April 1970 and early the following month extended its broadcasting time to 24 hours a day at weekends.

At the end of September 1970, without warning, RNI closed  and the station’s owners tried to explain that the ship had been sold to an African country and would shortly be broadcasting from a position in the Mediterranean. The real reason for the sudden and unexpected closure only became apparent later when it was revealed that Radio Veronica had paid the rival station’s Swiss owners to cease broadcasting. Radio Veronica directors, feeling their own future threatened after 10 successful years of broadcasting, had paid to keep RNI off the air. The 'loan' was to be repaid in full if RNI recommenced broadcasting, but to try and ensure that did not happen Radio Veronica arranged to provide their own captain and crew for the RNI ship, Mebo II, which remained at anchor off Scheveningen. However, at that stage Radio Veronica publicly denied any involvement in, or even knowledge of, the reason for their rival's closure.

In December 1970 RNI's directors attempted to repay the money Radio Veronica so that they could recommence transmissions from the Mebo II, but Veronica refused to accept their money.

1971

RNI managed to forcibly regain control of their ship in January 1971 and she was anchored off the Belgian coast for a few weeks before moving back to a position off Scheveningen , within sight of the Radio Veronica’s Norderney.  Test transmissions, in English, took place at the end of January 1971, and RNI was relaunched in English in mid-February 1971 with a Dutch language daytime service starting early in March, now providing direct competition for Radio Veronica.

Lawyers for Radio Veronica issued a writ against RNI requesting the courts to order Mebo II into port, or failing this, to authorise the Veronica organisation itself to tow in the rival radio ship. This action had been taken in the belief that the Mebo II was still hired to Radio Veronica as part of the September 1970 agreement between the two stations. They also argued that RNI’s owners were in breach of that agreement by having forcibly re-taken control of the radio ship and by starting Dutch language broadcasts  to compete  with Radio Veronica.

The court hearing took place on 10th March 1971, three days after the RNI Dutch Service had gone on the air. Radio Veronica's lawyers stated that since September 1970 the station had paid RNI to stay silent because of fears that its continued broadcasts were likely to jeopardise the future of offshore radio stations off the Dutch coast. Radio Veronica contended that RNI had now broken that agreement by returning to the air at the end of January 1971.

When judgement was given two weeks later the Court ruled in favour of RNI. The judge stated that having offered to return all the money RNI was entitled to resume broadcasts from the Mebo II and the fact that Radio Veronica had refused to accept repayment of the 'loan' did not  entitle them to pursue their interest in the rival radio ship.

Radio Veronica were furious at the judgement - elections were due for a new Dutch parliament and there were political murmurings that action would soon be taken to outlaw all offshore broadcasters. The more stations that were operating from off the Dutch coast made such Government action increasingly likely and the presence of the powerful RNI transmitters seemed to concern Radio Veronica directors most of all. As Europe's oldest surviving and most successful offshore station they  did not want their chances of being able to continue broadcasting (either at sea with the authorities continuing to turn a 'blind eye'  or legally from a land-base as part of the official radio system) jeopardised by the powerful newcomer to the offshore radio  scene. Some Radio Veronica directors openly referred to the need to "shut the big Dutch mouth" of RNI and secretly set about devising a scheme which, they hoped, would achieve that objective.



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