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Supporters’ Groups

Free Radio Supporters Association/ Free Radio Association (FRA) - 1

On 19th February, 1967 a meeting was held with a view to establishing an organisation to represent listeners of the offshore stations. The result was the establishment of the Free Radio Supporters Association (FRSA) . Representatives of Radio Caroline, Radio Scotland, Radio 270, and Radio 390  either attended the meeting or agreed in advance to accept the decision of the meeting. In addition a representative of Radio London attended as an observer.

The radio stations’ representatives agreed to  broadcast 'commercials' and announcements for the Association urging listeners to 'join the fight for free radio'. However, they did not agree to provide finance or to be represented on the governing body of the Association.

Immediately after the 19th February meeting  the  Commercial Radio Listeners Association (CRLA) and the FRSA merged, under the title Free Radio Supporters Association (FRSA). However, Ronan O’Rahilly informed the group that  Radio Caroline would only carry announcements if the word 'Supporters' was dropped from the  title, so the organisation became known as the Free Radio Association (FRA).

President of the newly formed FRA was Glasgow property developer Sir Ian MacTaggart, who was also chairman of the National Council of the Society for Individual Freedom and a former Conservative member of the then London County Council

Chairman of the FRA was Geoffrey Pearl (also a Committee member of the Society for Individual Freedom), who with his wife, June and an army of volunteers worked from an address that soon became very familiar to offshore radio listeners – 239 Eastwood Road, Rayleigh, Essex.

Local Branches of the FRA were established throughout Britain and abroad and by June 1967, the organisation claimed to have 259 branches. However, paid up membership was only in the region of 2,000.

Most of the offshore stations broadcast announcements for the FRA   and listeners were urged to write to their Member of Parliament expressing support for the continuation of the offshore radio stations – ‘Fight for Free Radio’.

As well as selling publicity merchandise the Free Radio Association also collected thousands of signatures for a petition which stated:-

"The Free Radio Association is fighting for free speech, free enterprise and free choice. The Government is trying to crush all competition over the air by silencing the commercial stations - thereby preserving the monopoly of the BBC and depriving us of the freedom to listen to the stations of our choice. This is a step towards dictatorship.   If the Marine etc Broadcasting (Offences) Bill becomes law in its present form, free speech will be suppressed, and the Free Radio Association will be partially silenced. No doubt this would please the Government. But the Government will never silence us completely. We have pledged that we will fight and we will win.”

A rally was organised in London on 28th June 1967. Between 2,000 and 4,000 listeners of the offshore radio stations attended to listen to a number of speakers and subsequently walked in a protest demonstration from Trafalgar Square to Fleet Street, at that time home to many of the British national newspapers. The significance of this destination was to draw attention of journalists to the aims and objectives of the FRA, because as Geoffrey Pearl explained  "The press is playing down the efforts of the Association. They see commercial radio as competition for their advertising revenue."

FRA Headquarters, 239 Eastwood Road, Rayleigh, Essex

Sir Ian MacTaggart

Geoffrey and June Pearl

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Supporters Groups

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The march to Fleet Street, June 1967