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 61 to 80

  1. tom

    I used to listed magic FM 105.4 when I was working in London, now I live abroad and I’m unable to get their frequencies. I wonder why I can listen certain radios like Capital and Classic FM but others are restricted


  2. Aloma

    I just discovered that I cannot listen to Real Radio from Scotland. I used to listen to it about 2 years ago, and am devastated its not available anymore. How ridiculous!!! Could anyone help me to find out if there is a way I can listen to it?
    Would be much appreciated,


  3. Tony

    They stopped the links for Kiss 100 and Capital FM that were shown above. Anyone got any new ones?

  4. yigal

    This is the current one for kiss 100

  5. William Wade

    Have you tried Virgin Radio? I have had no trouble whatsoever listening to music on THAT site! I listen to it often … daily!

  6. Robert

    My computer locks up when I try to open the feed, I have to always do cont-alt-del when that happens then I get the “not responding” info. I would like to listen to Radio Tay FM.

  7. terry stride

    Has anone thought about listening to the radio through a sky dish, you can get a sky box from ebay very cheap and you will need a dish to pull it all in , the size will depend on where you live, and it all comes out of the TV nice and clear, just check what you can get on I know of people that have no problem listening all over europe this way

  8. stuart reid

    Does anyone have a solution to listening to radio city from outside the uk. Any help is much appriciated..

  9. Gary Walton

    Can anyone help with trying to listen to Wave 105 From outside the UK – Web site won’t allow connection.

  10. amanda

    Have just found this thread – until last week I was able to listen to Capital radio online from Greece – this morning it asked for a postcode – did that, but still not receiving. Any ideas???

  11. ashish regmi, Nepal

    i’m a massive english football fan. though we get all the football on tele, recently the power cuts do not allow me to watch my fav sports on tele. and since the internet speed here isnt that gr88, we still live in stone age cant watch it online. i would really appreciate it if some one could either give me a link for a free live audio commentary of BPL link or how to get past the BBC Radio 5 Live barrier that it has for people living abroad.


  12. wolf

    hi thanks for all the info here. i’m trying to listen to an archived show from kiss in london is there anyway to do that? i’ve tried free proxy’s but they never let the stream start :/

    i’m in california..


  13. Norm

    I have NO problems listening CLASSIC FM or CAP GOLD (just put in their postal code) from the USA but having problems listening to CLASSIC ROCK 106 from Manchester.

    Any ideas how to get around the “not u UK” nonsense?

  14. Wayne

    Hi there. I am able to listen to most UK stations online here in Australia except the two Cornish stations Pirate Fm and Atlantic Fm. Any ideas? By the way Its fantastic to hear so many people are annoyed with this situation. Lets hope something can be done about this.

  15. Anne

    Thanks for the hint about entering a UK postal code. I just tried this and so far, it is working on Cap Gold. Personally, I miss the music and the news from the UK where I was born and lived until I was 21. I used the postal code that used to be mind.

    Does anyone know if there is any movement afoot to allow the world to listen without any subterfuge.

  16. Gi

    It’s working by key in UK postal code. Heart FM.. My favourite! 🙂

  17. nick

    Hi everyone,

    I couldnt get Kiss 100 to work when streaming with WMP. But this link works for me:

  18. Seth Gallaggher

    Not a longtime listener to english radio, but I started listening to it as I got tired of listening to the lame music playing on the radio here in Norway. Alas, one day, they took away my lovely english radio, and I was forced back to norwegian.

    But; after some time of whimpering to myself and complaining to the world in general about crap radios, I set out to find a way to once more listen to english radio. Epic tale ends there.
    Just wanted to say that works, just type in the radio station and settle in.
    I’m once more listening to Capital and enjoying every bit of it.

  19. Raja Anand

    Dear Jonathan ,

    As an avid expat listener of Capital I was struck by the non valid poastcode problem . It used to work putting in my sister’s but not anymore. Anyway just saying thanks for U helping us all …your link worked for me.

    Many many thanks.

  20. Gee

    Nick thanks so much that link in itunes for kiss actually works!!! My life is complete 🙂

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