Pirate DJs offered chance to go legal

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The Independent Online

After being branded the scourge of the airwaves for more than 40 years, pirate radio DJs are to be offered the chance to win their own shows on legal stations.

The Government's radio authorities have approved a controversial scheme being launched today by Kiss 100 to give pirate broadcasters the chance to perform lawfully to a national audience.

Four pirate radio DJs will be allowed to play on Kiss for two hours each, with the winner promised his or her own show on the station.

The Radio Authority, the government agency that approves licences for legal broadcasting, has given its approval to the scheme in the hope that it will encourage the pirates to respect the law.

Mike Phillips, the authority's senior programme and advertising officer, said: "It's a good way to try and lure people away from illegal stations." Mr Phillips said he hoped other legal radio stations would set up similar competitions.

The authority is concerned at the proliferation of pirate stations. The Radiocommunications Agency, aligned to the Department of Trade and Industry, made 1,000 raids on stations last year and increased prosecutions by 145 per cent.

Mr Phillips said: "There are a couple of pirate stations I listen to because they are a cut above the ones who only go on air to give shout-outs to their mates down the road. It would be nice if some of the better-run stations did take up the Kiss offer."

Kiss, which broadcasts to 1.5 million people in the London area and a further million nationally on digital radio, has been warned not to mention the frequencies of unlicensed stations on air.

The launch of "Pirate Radio Soundclash" also marks a return to its roots by Kiss, which was once Britain's best-known pirate station, but is now a mainstream broadcaster in the Emap media empire. Before it obtained its licence in 1990, Kiss gave a platform to DJs such as Trevor Nelson, Tim Westwood, Judge Jules and Danny Rampling, now some of the biggest names in British dance music.

The four semi-finalists will play back-to-back one evening in September. Listeners will be asked to vote for the DJ worthy of a three-month contract to present a show.