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NeTWork 21

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Network 21 television


For more information on NeTWork 21, visit their website here.

NeTWork 21 was a pirate television station which broadcast a 30mns program on Fridays from midnight throughout April to September 1986 in London. It had never been done before, and has not been done since anywhere in the UK.

The broadcasts took place on channel 21 of the UHF band, slightly below ITV, using a low powered transmitter covering an 8 mile radius across London. Program content was literally hand made, shot with a Sony Video 8 camera, edited on Low Band U-Matic, and broadcast on VHS. They showed slices of London's artistic buzzing underground life as well as slices of everyday life, something which the normal television stations never showed.

We would also offer slots to whoever was willing to appear on pirate TV, saying, showing or doing whatever they wanted, with no pre/post-production censorship of any kind. Because of our low tech approach, we could easily film people, situations and events with minimum disruption and maximum interaction. We were also free to choose program content and style according to our own mood, without having to worry about ratings, advertisers or good taste standards. NeTWork 21 rapidly became the toast of London during the spring and summer of 1986. There was not a single print, radio or television media which hadn't reported on us. Everyone in London was aware of the buzz and sensation we had created. We had many sympathisers, among both individuals and corporate organisations, helping with donations in the form of cash, time, equipment or facilities. Everyone encouraged us and wished us good luck. We did not aim to compete or take issue with the powers that be. We simply wanted to show that specialist broadcasting and programming was possible, since national television could not possibly represent the many diverse lifestyles then blooming.

We had correctly assessed that both cable and satellite television, at that time the only media solutions for diversity programming, would be very slow to take off. The World Wide Web did not yet exist. We therefore offered a solution for a flavour of home made television. NeTWork 21 was also an act of love, resulting from the unique meeting of two particular individuals, and nurtured from all the passion they were capable of. This aspect should not be underestimated.



Bruno de Florence Bruno de Florence

Thomas Mutke Thomas Mutke



Featured on NeTWork21: 14 karat soul, rachel auburn, yann beauvais, binny, tim burke, paul burwell, claude, simon costing, andrew czezowvski, the fridge, la fura del baus, diamanda galas, the grey organisation, derek jarman, roz kaveney, last decade, bob lawrie, andy lipman, john maybury, max, kenny morris, mute records, the neo naturists, genesis p-orridge, marc pauline, lana pellay, regine, david shaw, the soho brasserie, sonic youth, soviet france, richard strange, suzy, pat Sweeney, the vauxhall kunst theatre, simon watneys, andy Warhol, ceryth wyn evans, Yvette, the z agency, the zap club...



Sony Video 8 from NeTWork 21

NeTWork 21 programmes (pdf)

Programmes on show in the exhibition (pdf)

NeTWork 21 website (including press coverage of the time)