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A plan for
an airborne television station was announced in 1968 and the station
was scheduled to go on the air by the spring of 1969. The
station was the 'brainchild' of Irish businessman Ronan O'Rahilly
(pictured above) and
would be known as 'Caroline Television'. O'Rahilly
is the founder of Radio Caroline, which began broadcasting at Easter in
1964 from the M.V. Fredericia. The Fredericia, a ship which had
been renamed 'Caroline', was anchored in International waters off
Suffolk/Essex coast of the United Kingdom.
programmes from 'Caroline
Television' were to have been
beamed to the ground using Sratovision technology from two
four-engined Lockheed Super Constellation aircraft (pictured above) built in the
1940s/1950s. The Stratovision technology had been used successfully
United States during the Vietnam War to beam programmes down to their
The original intention was to set the aircraft on auto-pilot and
fly them over the International waters of the Irish Sea, althought this
plan was later changed and the planes would now fly over the air-space
of the east-coast of Great Britain.
shows would have consisted mainly of pre-recorded material bought
from foreign television stations. The
shows were to have been broadcast from 6pm to 3am, mostly in colour on
625 lines. The backing for the project was said to have come from
foreign companies interested in the advertising potential of the
station. 'Caroline Television's' start-up cost was
estimated at £1,000.000. Offices in Canada and the United States would
sell air-time to advertisers to fund the station.
relating to 'Caroline Television'
was made from the House of Commons on February 16 1970 by the minister
for Posts and Telecommunications at the time, John Stonehouse. He
said that concerted action would be taken by European countries against
the operators. This action was to include: withdrawal of aircraft
registration, use of airports and legal measures against operators.
Various newspaper reports at the time carried
stories regarding the project; one such report announced "Ronan
O'Rahilly is unmoved by suggestions that his flying TV station will
never get off the ground." The report goes on to say: "He [Ronan
O'Rahilly] is even amused by the widely-held doubts that he really does
have wings on which to waft his illegal transmitter within broadcasting
distance of Britain. He insists he has a plane-but will not say
what kind let alone where it is-and that it flew and put out a signal
It has been suggested that Ronan O'Rahilly used the publicity
surrounding the 'Caroline Television'
project as a way of deflecting attention away from his plans for the
eventual return of Radio Caroline.
The test broadcasts from 'Caroline Television' were
eagerly awaited by enthusiasts. There seems to to be no evidence that
transmissions were ever made or received from 'Caroline Television' and the
project was seemingly abandoned.