4 Digital and NGW submit DAB mux bids

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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