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RADIO LUXEMBOURG

Above; Radio Luxembourg at Expo 58 in Brussels, Belgium. July 1958.

Radio Luxembourg

Radio Luxembourg was a multilingual commercial broadcaster in Luxembourg. It is known in most non-English languages as RTL (for Radio Television Luxembourg).

The English-language service of Radio Luxembourg began in 1933 as one of the earliest commercial radio stations broadcasting to the UK and Ireland. It was an important forerunner of pirate radio and modern commercial radio in the United Kingdom. It was an effective way to advertise products by circumventing British legislation which until 1973 gave the BBC a monopoly of radio broadcasting on UK territory and prohibited all forms of advertising over the domestic radio spectrum. It boasted the most powerful privately owned transmitter in the world (1,300 kW broadcasting on medium wave). In the late 1930s, and again in the 1950s and 1960s, it captured very large audiences in Britain and Ireland with its programmes of popular entertainment.

Radio Luxembourg’s parent company, RTL Group, continued broadcasts to the UK as the owners of the British TV channel Five until it was sold in July 2010.

In 1922, the British government awarded a monopoly broadcasting licence to a single British Broadcasting Company, whose shares were owned by British and American electrical companies. Although in theory the BBC could have sold sponsored airtime, it attempted to gain its revenue by selling its own brand of licensed radio receivers manufactured by the member companies of the BBC. This arrangement lasted until 1927, when the broadcasting licence of the original BBC was allowed to expire. The assets of the former commercial company were then sold to a new non-commercial British Broadcasting Corporation, which operated under a UK charter from the Crown.

With no possibility of commercial broadcasting available from inside the UK, a former British Royal Air Force captain and entrepreneur (and from 1935 Conservative Party member of parliament) named Leonard F. Plugge set up his own International Broadcasting Company. The IBC began leasing time on transmitters in continental Europe and then reselling it as sponsored English-language programming aimed at audiences in Britain and Ireland. Because Plugge successfully demonstrated that State monopolies such as that of the BBC could be broken, other parties became attracted to the idea of creating a new commercial radio station specifically for this purpose.

n the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg during 1924, François Anen built a 100-watt transmitter to broadcast military music concerts and plays to listeners in Luxembourg. Because the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is centrally located in western Europe, it was an ideal location for transmitters aimed at reaching audiences in many nations, including the United Kingdom. Anen became inspired by the activities of Captain Plugge, who was using transmitters licensed in other countries to broadcast English-language radio programmes to Britain and Ireland, where commercial broadcasting had not been licensed by the British or Irish governments. On 11 May 1929, he brought together a group of mainly French entrepreneurs and formed the Luxembourg Society for Radio Studies (La Société Luxembourgeoise d’Etudes Radiophoniques) as a pressure group to force the Luxembourg government to issue them a commercial broadcasting licence.

On 19 December 1929, the government of Luxembourg passed a law awarding a monopoly licence to operate a commercial radio broadcasting franchise from the Grand Duchy. On 29 December, this licence was awarded to the Society, which in turn created the Luxembourg Broadcasting Company (Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Radiodiffusion) to be identified on the air as Radio Luxembourg.

Programmes

These were some of the shows heard in 1935 as listed in the 3 May edition of Radio Pictorial:

Sundays: 12:00 Noon – Musical Voyage – with Bobbie Comber and Reginald Purdell and sponsored by Halls Wine.
12:15 pm – Do-Do Broadcasts – sponsored medication programme “for asthma suffers”.
12:30 pm – Golden Hour of Music – the Irish Concert recorded programme
1:00 pm – Zam-Buk Broadcast – the latest dance music sponsored by a medication “for cuts, burns and bruises.”
1:30 pm – Littlewoods Broadcast – sponsored by a football pools coupon company in Liverpool.
2:00 pm – English service ends until 2:30 pm.
2:30 pm – Vernon’s All-Star Variety Concert – gramophone records presented by a football pools company.
5:30 pm – League of Ovaltineys – presented by the makers of Ovaltine. (The anthem of this children’s show was still being celebrated by fan sites in 2007. Another version of the Ovaltineys programming began again after World War II on Radio Luxembourg over its 208 wavelength.)

World War II

1940–1945

On 21 September 1939, the Luxembourg government closed the radio station down to protect the neutrality of the country during World War II. The station and its transmitters were taken over by the invading German forces in 1940, and were used for English-language propaganda broadcasts by William Joyce (“Lord Haw-Haw”) and others. When Allied forces took over Luxembourg in September 1944, the station was transferred to US Army control and used for black propaganda purposes for the remainder of the war (see Radio 1212).

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia