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Supporters’ Groups

Free Radio Supporters Association/ Free Radio Association (FRA) - 3

Post Marine etc Broadcasting (Offences) Act

Nevertheless the FRA continued to operate after the Marine etc Broadcasting (Offences) Act had come into force, but in the absence of new membership subscriptions generated from announcements on the offshore stations  financial difficulties quickly started to be experienced  and soon the FRA was losing £30 a week .

From 17th November 1967 the Free Radio Association took on the membership of the Broadside Free Radio Movement which had collapsed in October 1967. The merger gave the FRA a claimed membership of almost 100,000, although the majority of these were not fully paid up members. The organisation was experiencing some serious financial problems which were explained in one of its newsletters :-

"But, as you will see, we have some problems. We must not weaken now, or we've had it, so please help in all the ways I ask you in this newsletter. "Broadside" had a debt of £800, mainly because it had no membership subscription. Much of this debt has been cleared, but we are short of money and have had to take a temporary loan. Because all "Broadside" members became associate members of the FRA, there are now 4,500 full-paid members, but 95,500 associate free members. I'm sure you can see this puts a terrific strain on our finances. This won't be a problem if you, Associate Members, fork out five bob (25p) for Full Membership. This will give us the money, which every big association doing a big job must have! So, please, please fill in the form below.”

FRA members were also told  that they would be participating in a Football Pools Syndicate, and the FRA started a promotion campaign to turn their members into ‘FRA Sellers’ for its range of promotional material.

Early in  1968 disputes (including over the use of funds) developed within the FRA which led to many committee members leaving. For a while there were two groups claiming to represent the FRA and an acrimonious situation quickly developed with disrupted committee meetings and one group even persuading the Association’s bankers to freeze the FRA account. For an already financially stretched organisation this could have been (and was intended to be) disastrous, but a loan was arranged and the merger with Broadside Free Radio Movement created an opportunity to open a new bank account.

In March 1968 a brief reconciliation between the two factions took place and the original bank account was unfrozen, although this peace pact was short lived and many of the disgruntled committee members again resigned from the FRA. This action ultimately led to the formation of the National Commercial Radio Movement (NCRM) in July 1968.

On 17th August 1968, another big demonstration and march was held in Trafalgar Square,  London to mark the first anniversary of the implementation of the MOA.. Amongst  the speakers was Robbie Dale, who had been one of the British DJs to defy the Act and continue broadcasting with Radio Caroline after August 1967.

Meanwhile the FRA was experiencing difficulties in communicating with is claimed large membership – in particular they failed to directly inform three quarters of its members about the August 1968 Rally. They managed to finance the purchase of mechanised addressing equipment, but this put the organisation into the red again.

The following year the new equipment was used to mail 30,000 members a copy of the Summer 1969 Newsletter – with details of the third annual Rally in on 17th August 1969. However the FRA continued to be in financial difficulties with debts of £2,500, although this was claimed to be covered by an interest free loan which “does not have to be repaid until the Association is in a position to do so.”

On 19th April 1969 the FRA announced yet another a merger – this time with the Free Radio Campaign (FRC).

The Free Radio Association, in cooperation with the Free Radio Campaign (FRC), organised  the National Free Radio Week, from 10th – 17th  August, 1969. On 10th August a  Free Radio Rally was held in Trafalgar Square, London.  Ted Allbeury, former Managing Director of Radio 390 and Jason Wolf (Radio Caroline North DJ)  spoke at the Rally.

Another Rally was held in Trafalgar Square, London at the end of the week, on August 17th 1969 attended by some  4,000 people. An  FRA-T-shirt was delivered to 10 Downing Street for Prime Minister,  Harold Wilson. Speakers at this Rally included ex Caroline DJs Roger Day, Andy Archer, Jason Wolfe as well as FRA President, Sir Ian Mactaggart.

Also in 1969 the FRA launched a new publication -  Free Radio Times with the publication’s objectives explained in its first editorial:

"Free Radio Times is non-profit motivated, our object is to build up a mass circulation so that we can make a significant contribution on the Fight for Free Radio. Of course, when we get free commercial radio, FRT will assume the role of programme guide and news magazine. The policy is to report all important Free Radio events and news, with articles of general interest."

This first issue included news about  radio and the music industry, however Free Radio Times only published one issue before being replaced by Sound Magazine.

A sticker issued after the merger of the FRA and Broadside Free Radio Movement

News release about the 1969 Free Radio rally

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Free Radio Times front cover

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FRA Rally 1968