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1973: Commercial radio joins UK airwaves
Britain's first independent radio station began broadcasting today on VHF and medium wave.

LBC (London Broadcasting Company) joined the airwaves with a signature tune followed by a two hour 'news-feature' programme presented by former BBC reporter David Jessel.

The radio station is the first to challenge the BBC's 50-year radio monopoly. LBC'S intended target audience will be listeners of BBC Radio 4 and BBC London.

The station will broadcast news and features programmes 24 hours a day and present a news service syndicated to other commercial stations.

Details of the station's application for the broadcasting contract were released earlier today by the Independent Broadcasting Authority.

In the application LBC's remit was to produce news "presented without the slightest editorialising...but not without opinion or comment".

LBC pledges that each personal comment will be "prefaced by the statement that a personal viewpoint or prejudice is about to be expressed".

LBC's revenue will come almost entirely from advertising, though critics say its agenda could discourage advertising agencies who may prefer to back commercial stations with younger listeners.

But managing director Michael Levete claims support from advertisers has been most encouraging:

"If the first week's commercial bookings can be repeated throughout the year the company stands to gross 1 million a year," he said.

Increased competition

LBC has a budget of more than 1 million but the company predicts its setup costs will offset any profit in its first few years.

Other commercial radio stations opening later this year will compete with BBC regional audiences.

Next week Capital Radio starts broadcasting as a general music and entertainment station for London and is expected to draw in BBC Radio 1 and pirate radio listeners.

The new stations are hoping to capture a big share of the estimated 26 million people listening to radio at any one time during the week - and even draw away some TV audiences.

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LBC news reader
The voice of independent radio

David Jessel opens the airwaves for LBC's first broadcast

In Context
LBC's debut was deemed a success: in its first three days 8000 listeners called in to have their say on phone-in programmes.

In its 1980s heyday it had 2.4 million listeners.

Broadcasters' voices such as Janet Street-Porter's apparently evoked "a positive response in the ears of the listeners".

LBC hosted the likes of Angela Rippon, Michael Parkinson and Brian Hayes.

It broadcast the first official advertisement on British radio - Birds Eye frozen food.

LBC changed hands a number of times since 1973 and is currently owned by Chrysalis who are revamping it with a new FM licence.

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