Inevitably, the very people who lament the coming of unbridled Top 40 commercial radio on FM, with no lingering ties to place and history, are very often the same people who yearned for precisely that kind of radio (the offshore stations were every bit as short-term capitalist and dismissive of all other interests as Global Radio is, the only difference was that the political consensus then didn't approve of such things) during their formative years, usually some point between Suez and the coming of the new capitalism, roughly 1956 to 1984. For all they moaned about the "communist" tactics of the Wilson government against the offshore stations, and lamented the poor reception of Radio Luxembourg, they'd have been secretly repulsed had the British state embraced and celebrated pop music, and given them multiple commercial networks plus a BBC equivalent. Had such a thing happened back then, most of these future Thatcher voters would have been exposed as establishmentarians in disguise, at least as right-wing as their parents, and that would never have done. The old restrictions were deceptively convenient for the boomers to the extent that they gave them a platform to define themselves as "rebellious" and "anti-establishment" far beyond their true status as such on the issues that really mattered.
As pop has become the establishment culture to which all seeking power must conform (Brown's real undoing; we're just too close to it to see it yet) the more intelligent and thoughtful of those raised between the collapse of British power and the advent of naked capitalism in the UK may well feel, as I do, disillusioned with pop as a direct result of the Blairite degradation of the political process. But they are outnumbered by those who merely wish for the old restrictions to be continued as a means of covering their tracks - anything to avoid facing how right-wing and kneejerk they actually are, anything to avoid dealing with the fact that they are the masters now. Most of the rest of Europe has had national commercial FM pop radio for years, and in many ways it makes sense for Britain to follow, and use digital methods to fill the gaps; the only reason it hasn't had this sort of radio until now is deep-rooted official inertia (the continental equivalents of Radios 3 and 4 manage to take up far less of the spectrum than their BBC counterparts) and the fact that the decision-makers when the national commercial licences were given out in the pre-Blair early '90s were still of a wholly different generation. But the further institutionalisation of Britain as a deregulated quasi-American economy - everything the ILR anoraks wished for when they were young - unsettles that generation on multiple levels; quite apart from finally exposing them as the self-serving right-wingers they've been for practically half a century, it makes bad pop sound, for the first time, exactly as bad as it is. For every "Good Vibrations" or "Strawberry Fields Forever" the offshore stations played vast quantities of boring banality which, in itself, was and is no better and no worse than most of what the new Capital will play. It's just that the old romanticism of scarcity made bad pop sound good. Now it has to stand up for and of itself, and within the orthodoxies of Anglo-American capitalism it isn't pretty. Now, more than ever, we have to look elsewhere.