Channel 4 today brings its approach to television into the world of radio with the launch of Channel 4 Radio.
Promising a fresh approach to radio programming, Channel 4 Radio has already begun commissioning a range of audio content. Programmes available from launch include radio extensions of Channel 4 television shows such as Channel 4 News, Richard & Judy, Lost and Big Brother, with further cross-over commissions planned for later in the year.
Channel 4 Radio is kick-starting its planned move into the UK radio sector with the launch of a new website, channel4radio.com, where registered users can now listen to streamed content via the internet or download audio files to MP3 players and mobile phones. Listening via digital platforms has been steadily increasing, with Rajar figures for the first quarter of 2006 showing more than 11% of total listening hours were via digital platforms against just over 6% in the same period last year.
Speaking at today?s launch Chief Executive, Andy Duncan, said: ?We see this launch as the next step towards our stated ambition of building a presence in UK radio, in support of our strategy of offering public service competition to the BBC across all major media. Commercial radio needs an injection of fresh thinking. We’re confident that the strength of the talent we can bring to radio, the experience of the radio team we’re building and our unique creative approach is a powerful combination that will ultimately enhance commercial radio in the UK.
Nathalie Schwarz, Director of Radio, added: “Our ambition is to secure digital radio licences and launch 4-branded radio stations. We believe there is a gap for us in the market a chance to bring Channel 4’s spirit of innovation and risk-taking to radio, to extend the range of programming on offer, bring new advertisers to the medium and help strengthen the UK commercial radio sector, which is struggling to compete effectively with the BBC. We are not waiting to bid for new national digital licences, but pushing ahead with ambitious plans to create a major new stream of audio content for listeners online.?
Programme highlights include:
The Morning Report from Channel 4 Radio ? a 30-minute daily news bulletin, available for download each morning from 7am. The bulletin will be produced by the Channel 4 News team at ITN.
UK Lost ? a weekly series for Lost fanatics to indulge their conspiracy theories and enjoy sneak previews in between the TV show?s weekly airings on Channel 4.
Big Brother ? all the latest from the Big Brother house including the best bits from the previous evening?s show and exclusive behind the scenes access.
Richard & Judy?s Audio Book Club ? a monthly book programme hosted throughout the year by Richard and Judy. Listeners will be able to download and purchase the book and hear discussions and celebrity reviews of it.
Daily Morning Line ? Channel 4?s racing team offers a daily guide to the day?s racing including betting tips, latest news and gossip from the courses.
Channel 4 Radio has also begun to commission original programmes across a range of different genres.
Music ? highlights include Take the World Home, a world music programme available for monthly download, and a music and entertainment show hosted by E4 Music Zone presenter, Rick Edwards. There will also be coverage of forthcoming summer music festivals including festival goers? guides to The Isle of Wight, T4 on the Beach and the Wireless Festival.
Comedy and Entertainment ? programmes available from launch include a twist on Channel 4?s Top 10s format presented by Miquita Oliver, original narrative comedy series Danny Robbins Investigates and The Kipper Country Code, and a stand up comedy show.
News and Current Affairs ? output for launch includes a weekly user-generated news show Secret Confessions of?, and a series of polemics including collaborative work with Channel 4?s Dispatches.
Later this year, Channel 4 Radio will also launch a major interactive radio first ? a chance for listeners to direct every aspect of the construction of a new music radio station, which will be ?built? from scratch from the Channel 4 Radio website.
Channel 4 Radio is working with a range of specialist radio production companies ? such as its Oneword partner UBC and Somethin? Else? as well as leading independent TV producers including Endemol, Mentorn and Cactus TV. Channel 4 Radio is committed to helping build the radio independent production sector in the same way that Channel 4 TV has helped stimulate the independent TV sector.
Channel 4 Radio has also made its first appointment to its editorial development committee ? former Radio 2 Controller Jim Moir joins in a consultancy capacity. The new radio division is exploring other platforms for distributing its audio content, including digital TV and DAB. Some of its programmes will also be broadcast on its majority-owned national digital station, Oneword. Channel 4 Radio intends to lead a consortium to bid for the new national DAB multiplex, which is expected to be advertised by Ofcom at the end of 2006.