Britain's First Pirate TV Station

(West Indian World No.650 Feb. 15, 1984)

Tenby Towers (bbc2 transmitter site)

(by Veronica Minto)

TELSTAR Television is Britain's first pirate TV station. The Birmingham-based trio behind Telstar consists of a local government officer, an unemployed self-trained electronics expert and a black business man (Cecil Morris) & broadcaster,who was previously ran radio Star.
Telstar TV was run from 151 Dudley Road, Rising Star Records, the station utilised the BBC2 TV transmittors after it went of the air at midnight. This was done by using switch-on signal to re-broadcast the pirate pictures. Mr Morris suggests he has over 5,000 viewers in the Rubery and Northfield areas have so far been treated to hired videos such as pop group Duran Duran, horror movies and films such as Kramer vs. Kramer. Though their broadcasting time is between 1-5 am., they say they have no intention of screening "Video Nasties" or blue movies.
    "We are all responsible family people. There is no question of broadcasting anything distasteful which would insult our viewers", said Music Master. Before signing off one of the presenters will read out a letter of support , advise for better service and requests for films.
  Since it's exposure Telstar have been the recipients of dozens of letters a week as far a field as Scotland, Ireland and Sussex, anxious to find when they will be able to receive Telstar. But it's not only the young who are enthusiastic. On 68-year-old is reported to have said waiting up for Telstar is the highlight of the week, to which Music Master who wishes to remain anonymous says:
    "Telstar is the peoples station. British TV is boring, it needs competition to make it healthier. We would not have so much support if they were satisfied. The audience is there and we are catering for them.
      Telstar is now off the air to avoid detection, as the Department of Trade have called in  British Telecom's Radio Interference office saying "What they are doing is illegal," \but come summer Telecom's engineers will once again be huddled around their sophisticated tracking equipment in the hope of hunting down the country's smallest TV station, because Telstar have promised------ better organisation ------- hours of video ----



Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:37 pm

Yeah I remember transmissions came from Bartley Green/ Northfield in a flat and were switched on as soon as BBC2 went off the air. In those days BBC2 closed early on a Friday Night sometimes 11pm to 11.30pm. On a Saturday night they showed the Midnight Movie so they didn't close till 2am. On Fridays they actually switched off the transmitter. Some said it was for maintenance. Telstar switched on and ran a movie with the occasional pop video too, "Girls On Film" by Duran Duran was the best. for many weeks, about 8, this went on and the authorties were not aware. I was asked to produce some Intro and outtro continuity announcements and for the "heck of it" I agreed and recorded some general announcements "its our movie now" etc etc... These were general so they could be shown anytime. We did "on air" responses to letters that were sent in by viewers mainly from the Northfield Area and a few from Rubery. These were used for only three weeks although I think I did record about 6 intro/outtros. They were recorded on VHS at my work which was an Audio Visual rental company so we had the cameras and lighting on the shelf. The intro was shown then a black gap of about 60 seconds while the operator changed the VHS cassette for the movie. Then at the end the same process happened leaving 60 or so seconds while the outro was slotted back in the VHS machine. The outtro would say goodnight and ask people to watch next week after BBC2 closed. My father who lived in Northfield switched over one Friday night to see a Horror movie which he enjoyed thinking it was BBC2. The quality was very good considering it was VHS.
Then the person who ran the station decided to close down with a Blast of publicity. So he decided to do a last transmission. then the following week went into Central News/BBC Midlands Today and took the continuity tape. This is when the sh*t hit the fan...He never did appear the following Friday. Thousands of people must have been waiting after it got National News coverage. News At ten. BBC 9 o clock. etc etc. But the station never came On. The news coverage was based on a pre-recorded VHS tapes of the announcements a few which were never actually ever shown on air. I went into hiding, shaved off my moustouche and faced my boss who was on the verge of sacking me had it not been for the performance of the Rental Company. It was a very difficult period. The Rental company had signed a big contract with ITN for camera hire and was bidding for the HBO Wimbledon contract. Luckily it all died down and Telstar was not heard of again. ITV went 24 hours BBC2 transmitter stayed on, and Pirate TV was tried in London but never really took off. I think Telstar had a few viewers who had tuned in by mistake and watched for about 8 weeks as the films got better. they had a whole Video store to choose from...but the station was exposed to the media by its operators....the authorities were embarresed as it had been running for about 8 weeks.

As for the continuity announcements they were dreadful Yes dreadful, and I suppose I was naive to think that the only people who would see them would be the 30 or so viewers ... NOT THE WHOLE COUNTRY............... JON TAYLER (Forum User)

Posts: 26Joined: Wed Nov 07, 2007 10:10 amLocation: Rubery, Birmingham, Worcestershire border.

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