A potted history

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

a) AM RADIO: The BBC’s first AM (medium wave) radio broadcast in the Brighton area was made in 1927 from a mast at the Dyke Road reservoir, but a permanent transmitter station was later opened south of Stoney Lane at Kingston-by-Sea, Shoreham. It now broadcasts Radio One (1053 kHz), Radio Three (1215 kHz), Radio Five (693 kHz), Radio Sussex (1485 kHz) and Southern Sound (1323 kHz), fed in all cases by land-line. Radio 4 AM is received in Brighton from the Droitwich transmitter in Worcestershire (198 kHz).

b) BBC RADIO SUSSEX, 1 Marlborough Place: Opened as Radio Brighton on 14 February 1968 under manager Bob Gunnell in the former Blenheim Hotel, it was only the fifth local radio station in the country and actually went on air two months earlier with an emergency blizzard service on 8-9 December 1967. The station initially covered the coastal area from Shoreham to Peacehaven with 75 watts on 88.1 MHz from Whitehawk Hill. The frequency changed to 95.8 MHz in May 1971 and then to 95.3 MHz on 27 June 1973, supplemented by an AM frequency on 2 September 1972 from Shoreham, now 1485 kHz. The editorial area was extended to Worthing in March 1970, Seaford (July 1971), Lewes and Ringmer (March 1978), to Haywards Heath (April 1979), and to the whole of East Sussex in 1983. On 22 October 1983 Radio Brighton became BBC Radio Sussex and now broadcasts in stereo VHF-FM from six transmitters, and on AM from three; a secondary studio has been established at Eastbourne.

c) SOUTHERN SOUND RADIO, Radio House, Franklin Road, Portslade-by-Sea: Opened on 29 August 1983 in the former Rothbury Cinema, the station initially covered the area between Chichester, Haywards Heath and Eastbourne, but since February 1989 has had a twin station covering Hastings and eastern Sussex as well. Locally it transmits from Whitehawk Hill on 103.5 MHz stereo VHF-FM and from Shoreham on 1323 kHz AM. The programme output is more music based than that of Radio Sussex.

d) RADIO FALMER: Covers the campus of the university on a frequency of 999 kHz from an inductive loop aerial around the perimeter. It has been operating since February 1976 and is specially licensed by the Department of Trade and Industry.

e) FESTIVAL RADIO: A temporary radio station broadcast on 97.7 MHz VHF-FM for the duration of the 1990 Brighton Festival. It used a studio off London Road and a transmitter in Kemp Town.

f) TELEVISION: The BBC’s television service reached the town just in time for the coronation when, on 9 May 1953, the country’s first relay transmitter opened at the old radar station on Truleigh Hill to the north of Shoreham. (Some viewers were already receiving programmes via a cable relay from Devil’s Dyke, while viewers on high ground could receive other transmissions.) However, following the opening of the Rowridge station on the Isle of Wight in November 1954, Truleigh Hill operated on reduced power until a new transmitter at Whitehawk Hill opened in 1959. Brighton now lies at the edge of the BBC’s South Region which, for some years, operated a news studio in one of the upper rooms of the Royal Pavilion.
Independent Television commenced in 1955; Southern Television started broadcasting from the Isle of Wight on 20 August 1958, but was replaced by Television South (TVS) on New Year’s Day 1982. There is a small TVS news studio at the Brighton Centre with a direct link to Southampton which was inaugurated in April 1988.

g) WHITEHAWK HILL and RELAYS: Built on the site of a wartime radar station, the town’s main transmitting station first broadcast the BBC’s VHF television service on 5 April 1959, relaying Crystal Palace before switching to Rowridge on 14 April 1962. BBC1 (ch. 57) and BBC2 (ch. 63) colour UHF television were broadcast from 21 September 1970, ITV (ch. 60) from 28 April 1972, and Channel 4 (ch. 53) from 17 May 1983. VHF-FM radio services commenced on 13 March 1967 and in stereo from 4 November 1972, relaying the broadcasts from Wrotham in Kent; the frequencies are: Radio Two 90.1 MHz, Radio Three 92.3 MHz, and Radio Four 94.5 MHz. Radio One is scheduled for December 1990 on 99.7 MHz.
The mast, 148 feet high with a total height of 182 feet to the top of the UHF aerial, stands on a ground site 396 feet above sea-level and replaced the original mast of similar size in 1983 when the two stood side by side for a time. It serves around 400,000 people, but gaps in its coverage have been filled by smaller relay stations at Ladies Mile, Patcham, serving 3,800 people (September 1982); at Mount Pleasant, Ovingdean, serving 2,100 people (March 1983); and north-east of Looes Barn, Saltdean, for 1,750 viewers (March 1983). Relays at The Meads, serving parts of Coldean and Moulsecoomb, and at Theobald House, serving parts of central Brighton and Moulsecoomb, are due on the air in 1990.

h) CABLE TELEVISION: Rediffusion have provided a limited cable service for many years in the Brighton area, but a franchise for mass coverage has been awarded to Southdown Cable Vision to transmit eighty channels to 160,000 homes from Brighton to Worthing by 1996. The first service will be provided in 1991, and the channels will include community programmes made at the company’s own studio.

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

The following resource(s) is quoted as a general source for the information above: {123,124,309}

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