Let's start this little journey with a reasonably detailed quote - "In 1970, O’Rahilly announced the July launch of Caroline TV, supposedly to be broadcast from Lockheed Super Constellation aircraft. Caroline TV: hoax or dream? (source: David Hughes)
Flying over the North Sea. The plans, based on airborne transmissions to US troops then taking place in Vietnam, were later exposed as a publicity stunt – or at least a speculative attempt to attract backers for what would have been the riskiest broadcasting project of all. For a few months, there was regular newspaper and magazine coverage of the project by journalists who were determined not to under-estimate O’Rahilly again. But the stories soon began to pose more questions than answers.
The project probably had secured conditional funding from O’Rahilly’s wealthy friend, Scottish banking heir George Drummond, who had also backed most of his movie productions. The former Radio Caroline sales director Terry Bate (later a leading TV entrepreneur in London) and a New York advertising sales company Edward Petrie did engage in serious canvassing of US advertisers. And a BBC news team was despatched to cover the scheduled July 1 launch.
But the launch date came and went. O’Rahilly told some friends he had purchased two aircraft which were in Spain, waiting to take-off and start broadcasting. But in the weeks after the predicted launch date, he said, implausibly, that the planes had been “blown up” by British government agents. Even insiders came to believe the whole project was a fantasy which could have only become reality if high-spending advertisers had emerged to pay what would have been the astronomical operating costs of broadcasting from aircraft. The fact that Radio Caroline itself had been struggling to persuade international advertisers to circumvent the UK legislation (which applied also to aircraft) always made the whole project seem hopelessly unrealistic.
In the event, Caroline TV remained as nothing more than a poster on the wall of O’Rahilly’s London office wall in Hay’s Mews, near the former Radio Caroline headquarters. The reports of test broadcasts, advertising contracts, and trial flights from European airports quickly evaporated. The whole saga somehow seemed to fit with musician Alexis Korner’s mid-1960s view that the fast-talking Irishman “wanted more than anything else to be seen to be successful”. Now, O’Rahilly was struggling to stay in the news."
Conveniently dismissed as a publicity stunt on Radio Caroline's Wikipedia page and seldomly mentioned by anyone involved in the offshore radio saga, Caroline TV involved a few seriously minded business people who were hardly likely to take part in a publicity stunt, and even less so in a hoax. As the following German video goes on to demonstrate (and Ronan can be clearly heard under the commentary) it would appear that Caroline TV was initially a serious affair. Perhaps the simple explanation is that it failed when reality hit Mr O'Rahilly's blagging and bluster head on and the establishment said no. He also upset a good few press reporters with the promises of certain dates for the venture to begin. Now that's what I call a publicity stunt, that and taking on the current government the same year, know wonder Radio Veronica and RNI wanted him to ###### off when the Mi Amigo turned up off Holland a couple of years later.
Radio Now & Then
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