UK music industry silences radio for overseas listeners

From 1 April 2006, internet streams of British independent radio stations ceased to be available for listeners outside the UK.

Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), who collect royalties on behalf of record companies, informed broadcasters that they are only in a position to sell broadcasting rights for the UK. Therefore, when the old licences expired on 31 March, all of the independent radio stations had to restrict their internet streams to British listeners only.

Radio has never stopped at national boundaries, such is the nature of radio waves. The internet should be a technology that brings people from different countries closer by breaking down communication barriers. It should now be easier than ever to reach a global audience, without having to construct a network of shortwave radio transmitters. But instead, the music industry is using this technology to place restrictions on who can listen to radio stations, based on geographical location. It’s turning technology against people instead of using if for the common good. In much the same way, it should now be easier to distribute recordings and sell them online, but the music industry has insisted on crippling such products with so called “digital rights management” (DRM) which makes the online purchase far inferior to buying a physical CD.

I am a regular Classic FM listener, and there would often be e-mails read out from people listening on the other side of the world (for example, a lunchtime request sent in by an American listener over breakfast). That has now ended. So for all those people who don’t know anyone from outside their own country, that one time of the day where they might have felt part of a global community has been taken away, a step backwards to the insularity of the pre-information age.

There is, however, some light relief, and an indication that the broadcasters aren’t exactly happy with the new arrangements. Coupled with the 1 April date, I even thought the whole story might be a joke, but sadly not. GCap Media plc, who own many independent radio stations including Classic FM and Capital Radio, have restricted their internet streams to listeners in the UK. This is done primarily by IP address, but in case they wrongly identify a UK-based listener as being abroad, they also offer the option of entering a valid British postcode to prove that the user is in the UK. This is the message that overseas listeners receive when they attempt to listen online to Classic FM:

Due to licensing changes, we’re only allowed to offer our radio stream to those in the UK. You seem to be outside the UK, so you need to enter a valid UK postcode below:
If you don’t have cookies enabled, you’ll have to enter your postcode each time you listen. This service is managed by GCap Media plc, 30 Leicester Square, LONDON, WC2H 7LA

That wouldn’t be a valid UK postcode that’s part of their address, by any chance? Just in case listeners are uncertain about this, Capital Radio give the following advice on their How to Listen page:

If you don’t live in the UK, and are unable to provide a valid postcode (eg WC2H 7LA) you will be unable to connect to the player.

Given that GCap didn’t ask for this restriction in the first place, there are no prizes for guessing whether entering their own postcode in the box allows the listener to hear the internet stream. But even if it didn’t work, it’s simple enough to find a valid UK postcode anyway.

88 responses to “UK music industry silences radio for overseas listeners”

Showing comments 21 to 40

  1. ray smith

    I have today tried the Radio Feeds Search website and was able to bring in Tay AM via Media Player which appears to still be streaming them in, but alas the quality of the streaming is turgid and very broken, impossible to listen to, as it breaks up every few seconds. It says ‘contacting’ then the station name comes up but then is flicks back to contacting as the stream breaks. It is VERY inconsistent.

  2. Michael Wheatley

    Thank you so much – I clicked the link above and got Classic FM on the first attempt, from Pittsburgh, of all places! I’ve really missed it this past month. Thanks again.

  3. John C

    Hi Jonathon,

    Just let you you know that using a valid UK post code still allows me to listen to Classic FM from the Republic of Ireland!

    Thanks for you help on this.

  4. Mark R

    Hi Jonathon,

    Thanks for the information on Classic FM the ‘planetwideradio’ stream works for me here in Australia. Can you or anybody else out there help me with a stream for Capital Radio, London?

    Up until a few weeks ago the UK postcode worked for me but now I don’t even get asked my postcode, when I try to listen it creates an error that requires explorer to close. I have deleted my cookies just in case.

    Would appreciate any assistance.

  5. Jonathan

    Capital Radio is available at:
    All GCap’s stations seem to be available from this server, which is accessible from outside the British Isles.

  6. John Shannon

    Dear Jonathan et al.,

    Thanks to the messages above I can hear Classic FM again! Since April I managed somehow (using a London postal code helped) to keep it coming to my computer. But it finally stopped for me this week (8/14). When I could no longer access it I was annoyed (because I like it) and irritated (because of the reason).

    I work in New York and enjoy the station’s mix of music, not to mention the news and even the adverts.

    Thank God for the Internet and the info that is available there.

  7. Jason

    I can now listen to Classic FM. However, I have yet to find a way to listen to kiss 100 out of London. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Desperate in Austin without my weekly digweed shows.
    Thanks in advance. Jason

  8. Michael

    I listen to classic FM online without a problem with entering a (my old) UK postcode as I now live in the USA. though as with Jason, can’t find a way to listen to Kiss 100 FM. I have tried using supposed anonymous UK proxies but none have worked or the station can see the IP address is being blocked and so gives that same old “sorry..blah blah blah” message. there must be a way, such as configuring kiss through windows media player, as Jonathan did for classic FM., but any URL I’ve put in so far just doesn’t connect. Is there any technical minded people reading this that has the know how to configure this or easier still get around it somehow?!…eagerly awaiting your replies!..thanks

  9. Jonathan

    You can open any the following URLs in Windows Media Player to listen to Kiss 100:

    See if any of them will work. If not, you’ll need to use an anonymous proxy.

  10. Michael

    thank you very much!!!!…first one I tried worked!…Where did you get those links from?…tried finding some myself but seemed difficult to locate. It’s all techno right now playing as its the middle of the night in the UK,looking forward to the day time listening. Hope Jason is equally thankful!….as for free UK proxies,there aren’t many,and those that are apparently there,dont relly work very well. I would still be interested if you had a link to a tried and tested (working) UK proxy aswell for when this all goes belly up. Also what about for capital FM,heart FM, I know I’m pushing my luck but you seem to have the expertise and knowledge to point me in the right direction…thanks again Jonathan….from a grateful ex-pat!

  11. Root

    Please, please can you let me know how I can listen to Magic 105.4FM – my brilliant AE Wi-Fi radio is now unused & silent since the new regulations – but maybe I could listen to Magic via my laptop ??
    Many thanks.

  12. Michael

    Hi again Jonathan…sorry to be a pain, but for some reason,all of the url links you gave me to use in windows media player to listen to kiss have stopped working. any ideas why?..have they cottoned on and stopped it somehow?…do you have any more links for kiss or as i was wondering above,any information on a solid free UK proxy?..thanks again

  13. Filipe

    Does anybody has an idea to connect to Galaxy 105? (West Yorkshire radio). I used to love this radio, but now it’s not possible, since I live in Brazil. I tried to change my proxy settings on Windows Media Player, but it didn’t work out.

    Hope someone can help me.


  14. Mary Heathcote

    Hi – I found this correspondence when I was trying to discover why I could not longer access Classic fm from Singapore! I was accessing Classic fm via the windows media radio station site, and interestingly this access was only cut off in mid-September! An obvious question, given that many other UK stations such as Sky are still available via msn and windows, is why can’t Classic fm extend its license..? Or did I miss something obvious..?

  15. Branko

    Thanks for the tip.

    I’m listening to Capital Radio in Brazil!

  16. Bob Boyd

    Do devices such as the Accoustic Energy Wi-Fi radio circumvent the problem?
    I’m assuming their gateway isn’t subject to the same restrictions.
    If so, is there an equivalent USB device for those without Wi-Fi?

  17. danny

    can you please help me, I cannot listen to magic 105.4, I live in Israel I have tried proxy ips but still no joy

  18. Patricia

    Dear Mr Rawle,
    Thank you for this informative and helpful page on listening to British radio stations from abroad. I much appreciate it. Could you please list a URL location for One Word Radio?
    Thank you very much and best wishes,

  19. Jonathan

    For Oneword, try the following:

  20. Yigal

    could you please give us also URLs in Windows Media Player to listen to capital 95.8 fm & radio 1 ?

    Many thanks

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