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Supporters’ Groups

Free Radio Supporters Association/ Free Radio Association (FRA) - 2

The FRA also organised a "Free Radio Ball of the Year" at Alexandra Palace in London on 22nd July 1967, just before the Marine etc Broadcasting (Offences) Bill was passed in Parliament. About 3,000 people attended the event which starred The Move as well as other groups, and was hosted by Radio Caroline DJs Johnnie Walker and Robbie Dale.

In spring 1967, listeners were asked (in one of the free promotions broadcast by the offshore stations) to write to the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, giving the reasons why they were opposed to his Government banning the offshore radio stations.

A standard reply was sent to thousands of listeners in  the UK, Holland and Belgium by the Post Master General (Edward Short):-

"Many people have been very disappointed to hear that pirate broadcasting is to be stopped. It seems so harmless, and it is enjoyed by so many people. In fact, despite the repeated claims of the pirates, their broadcasts are far from harmless. The pirates are using wavelengths, which we have undertaken to leave clear for the broadcasting services in other countries. By so doing, they prevent people in those countries from hearing their own domestic programmes. They also represent a danger — slight but ever-present to the radio services — on which safety at sea depends. Moreover, broadcasting from the high seas is forbidden, all over the world by international law, and the pirates make almost unlimited use of recorded material, threatening the livelihoods of the musicians and the other performers whose work they use, without permission or payment."

"To date twelve European countries have complained to the Post Master General about the pirates' interference with their broadcasting services. And communications between ships and the shore have been seriously interfered with. If the pirates were allowed to continue unchecked, there would soon be so much interference that broadcasting as we know it would become impossible. This threat to the future of broadcasting has caused the maritime countries of the Council of Europe to agree to legislate on common lines to deal with it. The Bill, which is being considered by Parliament, carries out our obligations under the European Agreement. Many people feel that an easy solution would be to "bring the pirates ashore," that is, to licence them to operate on land. That is just not possible. There are no unused wavelengths on which powerful stations like the pirate stations could operate without causing interference. In any case, if they operated within the control of the copyright laws, they could not transmit the sort of programmes that they have been transmitting."

"The Government's plans for the future of sound broadcasting, which have recently been announced, are designed to match our broadcasting services more closely to our needs without interfering with other people's rights. But the most pressing need is to silence the pirate radio stations, which are flouting international regulations, earning us such a bad name abroad, endangering shipping and threatening to make broadcasting end in chaos, not only in Britain but over most of Europe."

Unfortunately by the time the FRA was formed in February 1967 the Marine etc Broadcasting  (Offences) Bill (MOB) was already on its way through the legislative process and by the summer of 1967 it was clear that all the campaigning by the Free Radio Association would not be effective in stopping the legislation.

The MOB completed its parliamentary process and received the Royal Assent in July 1967. The Marine etc Broadcasting (Offences) Act subsequently came into effect on 15th August 1967.

FRA Letterhead listing all the then office-holders

Click to enlarge

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