29th November 1991
Contact 94 goes off the air
After just over three years on air, Anglo-French radio station Contact FM silenced its mics on 29 November 1991. Broadcasting to Normandy and the Channel Islands from studios in Lessay, it had been transmitting on a variety of frequencies between 93FM and 95FM.
Like many radio stations, Contact FM had decided to launch with its breakfast slot. It was 5 September 1988; Kevin Turner was in the hot seat and Phil Collins’ Groovy Kind of Love was at the top of the British charts.
The first words were, “good morning. It’s six o’clock in the Channel Islands; seven o’clock in France. Welcome to the start of regular programmes from Contact 94.”
This was immediately followed by the first track on the playlist: The Beatles’ Good Day Sunshine, which led into the weather forecast. Unfortunately, this didn’t match the spirit of the song: the day was overcast and foggy with patches of heavy rain predicted. The fog was expected to clear by lunchtime, but the maximum temperature would still only be 19 degrees and the wind would be blowing at force four to five.
A multi-lingual line-up
Kevin Turner was followed, at 9am, by Steve Ryan, then John Tyler at lunchtime. Neil McCleod handled the drive time slot from 4pm; Danielle Berrou took over at 8pm, and ceded control to Paul Easton at 11pm. All of the output was in English except for Danielle Berrou’s 8pm to 11pm slot, which was in French.
There was just one problem: the French authorities weren’t sure whether Contact 94 was broadcasting legally or not. Its equipment was confiscated by police.
Events leading up to the confiscation were discussed in Jersey’s States Assembly on 28 February 1989. The president of the Broadcasting Committee said an unnamed company had requested permission to set up a local radio station in Jersey. This had been denied because BBC Radio Jersey was then still relatively new. The company accepted this. However, it applied to both the Home Office and Consul de France for permission to broadcast to the Channel Islands from France.
The Home Office said it would insist that French authorities not allow a station to be set up there with the aim of broadcasting to the Channel Islands. The president concluded, “The French authorities took the action they decided was appropriate in each case. The French authorities have not banned Radio Force 7, but the power of its transmitter has been reduced; Contact 94 was found by the French authorities to be illegal.”
The transmitters go quiet
Contact 94’s equipment was returned on appeal and it resumed broadcasting, but pulled the plug when the the UK Radio Authority advertised independent licences for Guernsey and Jersey. Contact 94 applied for the right to broadcast in Jersey and, as part of that process, switched off its transmitters on 29 November 1991.
It was unsuccessful in its application, with the Jersey licence instead being awarded to Channel 103. Channel 103 was later bought by Tindal Radio Group to be run alongside Guernsey’s Island FM.
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