Classic British Ex-pirate Pays Ransom, Expands Audience

The legendary Radio Caroline has for years been engaged in rebuilding itself, in hopes of perhaps securing a broadcast license and even, just maybe, broadcasting again from studios onboard one of its former ship-homes. It claims to have taken a major step toward this recently when it secured the rights to be heard over Sky Digital, the dominant satellite TV provider in the U.K. Sky dwarfs its cable and satellite-based competitors, reaching some 29 million British homes. Caroline is now heard on Sky Digital channel 0199, in homage to the original pirate station’s broadcast wavelength of 199 meters (~1510 KHz).
The symbolism warms the heart until you realize that Sky Digital is part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation empire, and it costs £20,000 ($36,000) per year to secure and maintain a channel on the Sky system. I realize that the motivations of British pirates are different from Americans, and many seek to become fiscally sustainable and eventually turn a profit by operating under a commercial model, but paying a global media mogul a hefty yearly rent, with money raised from listener donations, seems like a roundabout if not backward way of going about an eventual resurrection.
There’s also the station’s featuring of an evangelist media mogul selling fundamentalism from Missouri as part of its morning line-up, slugged under the moniker of “Caroline Viewpoint.” Back in the 1960s the game was rebellion against a state-dominated broadcast radio environment, and money was a means to an end to break that licensing blockade. But now, the point is…? No disrespect intended to the Caroline legacy; it just seems like things are a bit twisted up today.