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 41 to 60

  1. Jonathan

    For Capital (same company as ClassicFM):

    I didn’t think the BBC stations were restricted to the UK, but anyway, Radio 1 is:
    or for Realplayer:

  2. Yigal

    The first link to 95.8 capital fm DOES work ! Many thanks

    The URL link for Radio 1 unfortunateLy doesn’t work…

    Anyway, thanks again

  3. Doug

    Jonathan, I came across your web site on Google by searching for the reasons behind the ban on UK radio station music streams, hoping to find an answer and work-around. I would like to congratulate you on your work of assisting other ex-pat’s like myself that enjoyed listening to their favourite stations to maintain some connection to England. I have not yet tried any of your suggestions of adding a valid postal code, and was hoping you might have some specific information on how I might connect to Heart 100.7 from the West Midlands? Keep up the excellent work, and many thanks in advance. BTW, is there any movement to petition a change in this ridiculous censorship?

  4. DJN

    Hi Jonathan…Until today I have been able to listen to Clyde1 and Clyde2 via UK proxy from abroad. Now that (and other the proxies listed on the web) don’t work with audio streaming, though they are fine for normal browsing…I’d be be very greatful if you could help me with this matter. The URL is

    Thank you very much

  5. Sarah Hardy

    Hi Jonathan,

    I live in Italy and yesterday morning we were happily listening to ClassicFM via their website and when we came back to the office in the afternoon we had been cut off!! We had a cut off period last year as well but one day my boyfriend (a big Italian fan of ClassicFM) tried by chance to connect and it let us in (using their postcode BTW). I have tried all the links in this and your other part of the weblog but can’t get anything!!! Apart from the proxy server option is there anything else that has come up???


  6. Sarah Hardy

    Update to my earlier post – we were able to connect again this afternoon…..they are just teasing with us!!!!

  7. Herman (Gent - Belgium)


    I’m a radio freak from Belgium. To day i just see we can not tune in any more to some the UK station’s makes me angry. This bad and sad what do the say a EEC mabay it would better if the UK go out of the EG don’t you think ? The where always a out side leg on many things that’s what i think about it. Freedom on radio to all arround the world not to the Uk i’m a shame to be a member of the EEC with the UK in it !

    This look almost the same what the did way back on monday, aug the 14 , 1967 with the Offshore Radio Stations at sea. Many did protest on this but it did’t help. For those ho don’t now what “Offshore Radio” (from the radio ships) was search for more info on the internet very easy to find.

    Let’s hope the find some thing so we from outside the Uk can tune back soon woud a prostest help ?

    73 Herman greetigs to all

  8. Dudge

    I’ve not tried to listen online for a long while, but my wife mentioned this evening that it was blocked, so I checked and found it was. Long story short, I Googled and found this article.


  9. John Frith

    Glad someone else is trying to find ways around it.
    No problems with Classic FM in Spain using a Dundee postcode, but having emigrated from Dundee I really miss Tay FM and had hoped to get it online.
    Anyone found a proxy server or link?
    Hope you had a good Burns Night last night!

  10. morbidmedia

    If any of you are interested, try, you have a choice of stations to the left of the screen of wmp or realplayer radio stations, make sure you click on the little link at the end of the line or info 64K or 32K, dhould open the url in either wmp or realplayer… goodluck (not all radio stations are there, but a good few are)

    listen to Magic 105.4, I’ve been listening for years, more musc, less talk…lol

  11. Anthony

    I moved to Perth from London – year totally isolated… I thought at least I’d be able to listen to Kiss 100… I’m here for a year without KISS!! Someone help please??

    Any updates on how to get it?

  12. yigal

    John has already gave us the solution how to listen to kiss 100
    You can open any the following URLs in Windows Media Player to listen to Kiss 100:

    It works, and thanks to John, I’m so happy !

  13. Anthony

    That doesn’t always work though. It does cut out during the day i.e. now 15th Feb 2007 1733PM – Perth, Australia

  14. Simon

    Hi! Any idea how I can listen to Heart FM online from Spain – Proxy server address perhaps???


  15. darren

    im gutted im a expat living in dublin and can’t listen to any off my old radio station the law is a joke and should be changed

    not happy

  16. David Gibbs

    Hi Jonathan,

    Finally, a web site that addresses one of the biggest world media injustices around! You can be an UK expat with a property at home WITH a valid TV license that pays for the BBC, yet if you want to listen to sport overseas “from the BBC”, they won’t bloody let you!

    Does anyone know of how to break the Radio Five Live code for live sport so you can appear with a UK IP address?

    Interestingly, you could get the Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland football games on local radio until recently (England was always on Five Live, so no chance there), but now even stations like Radio Ulster and Radio Wales have stitched us up too!

    Help! I want live sport onthe radio….

  17. Herman

    ” morbidmedia Says:
    30 January 2007 at 7:32 pm

    If any of you are interested, try ( this = , is the reason why the linl don’t open) you have a choice of stations to the left of the screen of wmp or realplayer radio stations ”

    This weblink works

  18. Mike Connolly

    Thank you very very much for the info now happy Jock in Brisbane Australia

  19. John Frith

    And another happy ex-Dundee listener to TayFM!
    It’s great to hear the old gang again even though I’m working in Toledo, Spain.
    Many thanks to you for the link which is fine.

  20. Didier

    As Filipe said, I am (or was) a fan of galaxy (Manchester).
    Because I’m living in France, I now can’t listen to “my” radio, and that’s a pity.
    My position about PPL’ new regulations is that it’s a old protectionism way of thinking. It’s very simple : the more I listen to British music, the more I buy British music ; and the less I listen to…, the less I buy.
    Anyway, if somebody can help me to find a way to be connected again to Galaxy (manchester or 102 is my favourite), I’ll be very glad.
    Thanks a lot.

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