What Of Radio Luxembourg? 

25 November 2020 tbs.pm/71363

 

Nottingham Evening Post masthead

From the Nottingham Evening Post for 10 January 1934

WE are hearing a great deal about the great European wavelength change to take place during the week-end, and alarmist statements are prevalent on all hands as to what will happen as the result of some countries refusing to come into line with others.

Confusion, it is stated, is bound to take place. It may, and it may not (writes the “Post” wireless correspondent). Experience alone will tell. Luxembourg seems to be the transmitter which is the cause of the commotion on the long waves. Critics are bringing this station well into the limelight, as against such others as Motala (Sweden), Huizen (Holland), Warsaw (Poland), Lahti (Finland), and Moscow.

Pressure is reported to have been brought to bear on Luxembourg by the British, German, and Dutch Governments, and that the Grand Duchy station will be almost bound to conform to the Lucerne Plan and drop down to 240.2 metres, with a considerably reduced power.

The Listener’s View

I have my doubts about such action being formed. And one has only to hear the comments of the average listener to know what he would think of Radio Luxembourg being moved. It is curious, but none the less true, that though the transmissions from this station are for the most part electrical recordings, and in consequence “thin” compared with actual band concerts, they are extremely popular, the reason being the class of music put over.

During each Sunday dinner hour there are dance records, and in the afternoon, until about 8 o’clock, these electrical recordings of further dance music are radiated, all being sponsored.

Then follows a tip-top programme of English music, free from advertising material, and contributed by the station orchestra. The difference in quality — for the better — is very marked.

However, it cannot be denied that Luxembourg is a very popular station, and its popularity has been won from the B.B.C. — on Sundays, of course, simply by the type of music transmitted. It will be extremely interesting, therefore, to watch what happens in the Grand Duchy.

Here We Are!

This is how the long-wave stations should line up after Sunday night:

Station. From metres. To metres.
Radio-Paris 1725 1796
Moscow I. 1481 1714
Deutschlandsender 1635 1571
Daventry 1554.4 1500
Minsk 1105 1442
Motala (Sweden) 1348 1389
Huizen (Holland) 1875 1345
Warsaw (Poland) 1411 1304
Kalundborg 1153.8 1261
Leningrad 857 1224
Oslo (Norway) 1083 1186
Lahti (Finland) 1796 1145
Moscow II. 1115 1107

 

And as for the medium waveband, here are the outstanding changes:

Station. From metres. To metres.
Athlone 413 531
Brussels (No. 1) 509 484
Rome 441 421
Toulouse (P.T.T.) 225 387
Moscow (Stalin) 424 387
Milan 332 369
Algiers 363 319
Hamburg 372 332
Madrid (No. 2) 424 293
Odessa 450 281
Bordeaux 304 279
Barcelona 348 247
Naples 319 272
Monte Ceneri 1132 257
Copenhagen 281 255
Lille 266 247
San Sebastian 453 238
Dantzig 447 230
Bucharest 395 213
Cork 224 210

 

Give It A Chance

The change will be effected over the weekend. Stations will commence rearranging their wavelengths at 11 p.m. (G.M.T.) on Sunday, and it will be continued all night, with various checking stations notifying when all is O.K. All stations are expected to open up on Monday on their new wavelengths.

The new plan (details of which are set out in a booklet “The Lucerne Plan,” published by the B.B.C., and available free of charge at any B.B.C. office), will not, it is expected, put the British listener to any considerable trouble, since in most cases the changes involved are small.

So far as the Daventry National is concerned, the change will mean tuning a little lower in the scale — 1500 instead of 1554.4 metres, and in the case of Midland Regional the change will be in the same direction — a reduction from 398.9 to 391.1 metres.

The B.B.C. ask for suspended judgment on the few days following the change-over. Then, if any listener should find himself in difficulty, he should apply to the Chief Engineer of the B.B.C. for advice.

 


 

❛❛Kif Bowden-Smith writes: European medium and long wavelengths were full practically from the moment broadcasting first became popular. We’re a small continent, with a lot of different nations, languages and cultures crammed into a small space, all of them requiring radio stations.

 

 

A conference at Prague in 1929 had initially set the international, national and regional wavelengths for each country. The Prague Plan was immediately overwhelmed with more stations requiring more bandwidth than had been allocated. This pattern would continue through the Lucerne (1933), Copenhagen (1948), Stockholm (1952) and Geneva (1977) conferences, all requiring various twists and turns from the national broadcasters trying to fit a quart into a pint pot.

The notable thing about nearly all of these conferences was how the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg ignored the results. As a tiny country, it was allocated low-power medium wave wavelengths which were to be shared by distant larger countries. After all, it didn’t need much bandwidth and power to cover an entire country the size of a moderate British county.

But Luxembourg had decided very early on that it could serve the whole of western Europe with various high-power services, and in a time where all stations were public service stations funded by licence fees or central government, it could tap an emerging market for commercial sponsorship and make a bit of money.

The Evening Post asks if Radio Luxembourg will comply with the Lucerne Plan and retreat to a shared local medium wavelength of 240.2 metres, rather than sticking with its high-power 1200 metres long wavelength. They kept the whole of Europe guessing, with the state broadcasters all hopeful that the intruder commercial service was now over.

It was therefore a shock, but perhaps not a surprise, when Radio Luxembourg came on air on the day of the changes at a relatively clear spot on the long wave dial of 1304 metres, just as powerful and just as out-of-place as it had previously been.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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1 response to this article

Ben Grabham 1 December 2020 at 12:58 pm

It’s interesting to note that very shortly after this, the BBC started significantly backpeddling on the Radio Luxembourg issue – on the orders of HMG who had decided to use it in order to broadcast UK views and speeches to the German population (somewhere in the mess that is my house I have a book that looks in detail at UK & German Radio Propaganda, including the setting up of the London Joint Broadcasting Committee in 1938).

One direct reference I have found is in the University of Birmingham Chamberlain Archive which states:
“Memorandum written by Gerald Wellesley, 7th Duke of Wellington, detailing special arrangements for broadcasting to the German people Wellesley (1885-1972) relates the planning of special radio broadcasts to the German people, 27-30 September. The memorandum, dated 3 October and signed Gerald Wellesley, includes details of his meeting with Sir Joseph Ball during which arrangements were provisionally agreed. Plans were put in motion within a few hours of this meeting, with the first broadcast taking place at 8.00 the same evening. The broadcasts were translations into German of messages from President Roosevelt, Chamberlain, Monsieur Daladier, and Dr Benes. They were intended to give the German people the text of key messages ‘of which [they]… were believed to be in complete ignorance’, including Roosevelt’s appeals to Hitler. Radio Luxembourg was chosen in preference to the BBC as the majority of German people had access only to local radio at the time.”

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