Applications to run the UK's second national DAB digital radio multiplex—which will operate both digital radio stations and innovative multimedia applications—have been submitted to Ofcom by the Channel 4-led 4 Digital consortium, and transmission group National Grid Wireless, operator of two digital terrestrial television multiplexes.
4 Digital—which comprises Channel 4, Emap, UTV, Chrysalis, BSkyB, Carphone Warehouse and UBC Media—said if its bid for the 12-year licence is successful it would offer 10 new radio stations from 2008 onwards, provided by Channel 4 Radio; Emap Radio; UTV Radio; Sky News Radio, a Chrysalis Radio and BSkyB joint venture; CanWest MediaWorks, The Walt Disney Company, SMG and Sunrise Radio.
4 Digital said it would commit £4.5m to marketing digital radio in the first three years of the licence period. New stations would be marketed by shareholders on existing channels in a promotion worth an additional £25m. 4 Digital chairman Nathalie Schwarz said the consortium would "put radio back where it belongs, at the heart of a multimedia, multi-platform UK."
National Grid Wireless (NGW) said it would launch 12 new digital radio stations from February 2008. Its services would cover more than 71% of the UK population from that point, rising to 94%. NGW's bid team—which has been advised by David Mansfield, the former Capital Radio managing director—says it will offer the "most cost-effective solution", leaving more cash for content and marketing.
NGW's application says it has formed partnerships with the BBC and GCap Media-owned Digital One, the existing national DAB multiplex, to market digital radio. NGW's line-up inlcudes two Channel 4 stations, though Channel 4 said no conversations had taken place with NGW. Other stations include Radio Luxembourg, targeting Radio 1 listeners; 50+, targeting Radio 2's older audience; Adult/Album, targeting Radio 2's younger listeners; and Love Songs, aimed at women.
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