Muswicman 279  Caroline Island

    

  


             Paul Rusling

  

Paul Rusling, Dave Cox and Jim Connolly
We assembled a fantastic team for the Isle of Man LW project, one of the best I've ever had the privilege to work with.  

This shot shows a planning meeting underway in the Regency Hotel in Douglas, comprising Peter Levy, John Laxton, Geoff Holliman and Derrick Connolly. 

Geoff had been Marketing Director of Scottish TV, TVAM and several other media operations while Derrick was a former IBA, Capital Radio  and ILR engineer.  Derrick was also Chief Engineer at the Radio Hallam group in Sheffield and sat on several infliuential broadcast engineering committees, including the ETSI panels which set the technical standards for radio transmitters.

Peter Levy was at Radio City in Liverpool and Pennine in Bradford before joining Radio Aire and then the BBC. He now presents the BBC TV News in East Yorkshire each evening.

Press and Promotion was in the hands of Rodney Collins, ex experienced joujrnlsist with many years at BBC Radios 1 and 2, Radio Luxembourg, Atlantic 252 and Manx Radio.
Paul with former Radio Caroline colleague Dave Cox and IMIB's Marine Superintendent, Captain James Connolly. The chart they are perusing shows the position of the platform in Ramsey Bay, just inside the Bahama bank.

Isle of Man International Broadcasting plc's

Musicman 279 Long Wave project

Paul was founder of a company which was licensed to launch an international broadcasting station serving the whole of the British Isles from a  high power Long Wave transmitter in the Isle of Man, The project was called MusicMann 279  and Paul resided in the Isle of Man for over seven years as the project was developed.

The 500 kilowatt transmitter would have covered the entire UK and Ireland (see coverage map above) and some parts of the near continent too.  The programmes proposed were aimed at those who decide the spending in most family homes, generally housewives, and could best be termed a 'Radio 1 and a half', not quite as pedestrian as BBC Radio 2, but retaining the personality DJ breed, well-known from Radio 1's 'glory years',  i.e. its first 25 years.  The team included rock legend Rick Wakeman and housewives idol Gene Pitney.

The project was opposed by a very small group of Islanders who had been spooked by scare stories about the high powerand 'the throb of mighty diesel generators'. The delays in obtaining planning permission for the transmission site cost several years and almost £2m sterling, but eventually permissions were granted for an offshore platform to house the station, within Manx territorial waters and licensed by the Isle of Man Government. 

The offshore structure and additional equipment forced the costs up to £8m million (like any 'international' station it needed a hugely expensive marketing and promotion campaign) which entailed raising money in 'the City'.  Some of the original shareholders in the project refused to agree reasonable terms with the major investors and stubbornly tried to downgrade the project to a low power 'experiment' using a ship. It was a legal radio transmission ship, but still fraught with difficulties - of which Paul was only too aware.

By 2006 the company's Board were continually battling each other for control and Paul decided to leave after deciding that the prospects of commercial success were diminishing.

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Paul Rusling in n2015.
Musicman 279, Caroline Island tech drawing

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sle of Man International Broadcasting

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IMIB Team panning meeting
Paul Rusling with Institute of Bankers
Paul Rusling with the Institute of Bankers committee on the Isle of Man
Musicmann 279 planning meeting (Peter Levy, John Laxton, Geoff Holliman and Derrick Connolly).  checking on the Island's legendary hospitality at the five star Regency Hotel on Douglas Promenade.

Musicman 279

Musicman 279

- IMIB

Musicman 279 history

The Manx had harboured the wish to run their own radio station for many decades, certainly since the late 1940s, however as broadcasting and most other matters were rigidly controlled by Whitehall, there was little chance of this coming about.

In the 1950s, a local retailer, Mr J Colebourne, contacted PYE, the equipment manufacturer, and agreed to form an alliance to set up a radio station in the Island broadcasting to neighbouring parts of the UK.  Once again the General Post Office, who were in charge of all broadcasting matters in the UK, refused to grant a licence.

In the early 1960s the Radio Manx company tried once again and, with some assistance of the Isle of Man Government, it was agreed to give permission for a very low powered Manx Radio, audible only within the Island.   At the same time as Manx Radio launched in Summer 1964,  Radio Caroiline turned up in Ramsey Bay and began broadcasting with a 10,000 watt signal.  Radio Caroline North could be heard across the north of Englnd, Wales, parts of Scotland and most of Ireland, exactly the same coverage area that had been intended for Manx Radio.

Manx Radio limped on at very low power, barely covering the Island's capital, but was eventually allowed to broadcast with a 20,000 watt signal that did reach some other parts of the UK and Ireland. For a while the station tried getting advertising in England as it undoubtedly had an audience there, but this was not commercially viable with such a poor signal and only limited promotional resources.

Manx Radio eventually became wholly owned by the Isle of Man Government, and indeed still is.  Many representations were made by the Isle of Man policitians to Whitehall and to Westminster to get permission to broadcast with decent power on a frequency to cover a larger area. The Post Office in London always refused, saying initially that the Labout politicians did not like commercial radio. 

Their argument was that a commercial manx radio would compete unfairly with BBC stations, and later commercial radio in the UK.  It wasn't until the 1990s that this 'unfair commercial competition' argument was overturned, by the European Court. This is a remarkable coincidence, as the Isle of Man has never been a part of the EU or Europe, and is simply a trading partner of the UK by virtue of its 'Crown dependency' status.

After commercial radio was licensed in the UK, the response to Manx Radio's requests was that if Manx could also be heard across the UK it would affect the economics of the small local stations.  This excuse was to be the key used to unlock a licence!
By the early 1990s, Paul Rusling was working as a broadcast consultant to several radio companies, specialising in licence applications. While some of these were in the UK (such as Yorkshire Coast Radio) much of his work was in Europe - e.g. Germany, Poland, Lithuiania, Russia, and Scandinavia.  The "holy grail' at that time was to find a way of broadcasting commercial radio to Sweden, a very rich market with only state controlled radio.

Paul copied the Radio Luxembourg idea and proposed a 500,000 watt transmitter on the coast in Poland, and then later when it became free of the soviets, in Lithuania. The project had a high powered team of lawyers and in 1992, the European Court in Strasbourg ruled that countries could not refuse a boradcast licence on economic grounds; actually it was a TV channel the case was about, but radio and Tv are the same thing in law.

At about the same time, the Isle of Man Government was reqorgainsiing some of its department and a new Communciations Commission took over licensing work from an older Broadcasting Commission.  Paul Rusling knew of the wish of Manx Radio to try and broadcast to the UK with high power and flew to the Isle of Man to meet with some radio contacts, one of whom was a former ship mate of his from Radio Caroline days, Dave Cox. 

The Chief Minister, Sir Miles Walker, and all his cabinet  were still keen to have a high power Manx radio station, but they had just promised the Tynwald (Manx parliament) that the latest subvention of £1.4 million to cover Manx Radio's costs, would be the last high amount paid over. 

With an election looming they dare not  sanction yet more money for radio as it was uncertain if the UK could be forced to adhere to the Strasbourg ruling.  It was suggested to Paul Rusling that if he could spring the permission and a suitable frequency, then the isle of Man Government's new Communications Commission would award him a licence. 

Celtic Rose Radio

Rusling's first move was to incorporate a legal body as a vehicle to apply for a licence. The company he  formed was  a new Isle of Man company called Celtic Rose Radio. A previously  successful radio company in Lancashire had been called Red Rose Radio and the Celtic bit was to stress the Island's heritage as a Celtic community.  Within weeks Rusling had brought in several investors who had prospered from other radio ventures, where he had made them a lot of money.

The plan was a good one - by having a powerful transmitter on the Isle of Man, the whole of the UK plus Ireland and a good part of 'near Europe' could be covered.

As a commercial venture it promised huge returns as commercial radio in Britain was constrained by draconian regulations, which only allowed for two national stations - one on FM, to be 'non pop music' (it became Classic fM)  and two on Medium Wave, which had not yet launched.   The radio advertising market in the UK was  achieving less than 2% of the national advertising pie, and the advertising agencies agreed that they needed a national station to lure the really big advertisers.  

THE REGULATORS

Radiocommunication Agency

Talks were held with the UK department for issuing radio frequencies. This was the DCMS, who licensed the BBC and the Radio Authority. The latter could not give licenses for a station in the Isle of Man, it was outside their remit and must be done by the Isle of Man's new Communications Commission

They in turn had to get a suitable frequency from the Department of Trade and Industry.  The DTI had an executive agency which dealt with such matters called the Radiocommunications Agency.



Musicman story

Incomplete - to be continued
Golden Microphone award
Isle of Man LW coverage map

Isle of Man Long Wave project

Musicman
279

LW Giant
covering UK & ROI
from the
Isle of Man
CAROLINE ISLAND,  the proposed Long Wave transmission tower in Ramsey bay
Communications Commission logo

Isle of Man Government

Communications Commission


The Isle of Man Government established a 'Broadcasting Commission' in the 1980s and, in the early 1990s, this became the Communications Commission, responsible for all forms of radio emissions in the Island, broadcasting and communications. 

The Commission also maintains all the communications equipment of the IoM Government, which includes local utilities. Originally operating from withion the Department of Home Affairs in Homefield, it moved to a bungalow in Onchan, just outside the Island's capital Douglas, in 2000.

The Communications Commission is a Statutory Board of the Isle of Man Government, comprising a Chairman and up to five Members with a range of experience. The Commission employs a staff of the Director and four others.They are responsible for licensing and regulating all telecommunications and broadcasting on the Isle of Man under the Telecommunications Act 1984, the Radio Masts Regulation Act 1988 and the Broadcasting Act 1993. In 2017 an extra piece of legislation was enacted:  The Wireless Telegraphy (Exemption and Amendment) Regulations 2017, as extended to the Isle of Man, which took effect on 7th August 2017
Paul Rusling
Isle of Man Long Wave Project

Isle of Man Long Wave project

Musicman 279


LW Giant
for the UK & ROI
from the
Isle of Man
Isle of Man

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sle of Man International Broadcasting

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team


Paul with former Radio Caroline colleague Dave Cox and IMIB's Marine Superintendent, Captain James Connolly. The chart they are perusing shows the position of the platform in Ramsey Bay, just inside the Bahama bank.