The last major licence to be advertised by Ofcom has attracted eight applications, in a bidding war expected to have the industry guessing the outcome until March 2007. Most of the major groups have applied, including GCap, Emap, GMG and UTV.
Growing networks also want to win the licence, including Absolute Radio, Town and Country Broadcasting and CanWest, which will serve over one million adults in South Wales.
The applications are a mixture of talk, rock music or over 50s format, including Town and Country Broadcasting's South Wales Radio. Chief Executive Jason Bryant said; "South Wales Radio found a very strong demand in its research for a speech-led service and for an easy listening music mix. That demand and support is also apparent from our contacts in the South Wales business community and from local opinion formers. This is the only part of the UK without an older targeted service and our Format is one that the BBC has been delivering for many years in its local and regional radio stations. It's about time commercial radio in Wales started competing with them for listeners."
GMG Radio wants to offer a second regional station in the area along with the very successful Real Radio. Variety FM will also target the over 50s.Jeff Stephenson, Development Director is confident: "The highly experienced executive team responsible for Variety FM are determined to provide a truly local radio service for the region, just as they did with Real Radio, which will create new audiences rather than take them away from existing local and regional commercial services."
Emap want to rock the younger population of South Wales and are proposing to extend the popular Kerrang! Radio to the region. Adrian Serle, managing director of Kerrang! Radio, said: "Wales has an awesome history of rock music that Kerrang! has always supported. We successfully launched Kerrang! on FM in the West Midlands, now we want to take it South Wales. You only have to look at the region's hotbed of talent to see that Kerrang! has a natural home here.
"Kerrang! Radio Wales will be firmly rooted in, inspired by, and totally committed to its South Wales base. This will include regular features that focus on the local area and a huge amount of live music that we can bring to the area — from exclusive acoustic gigs for 40 people to mini festivals for 1000s of people."
Xfm also plans to rock South Wales with a similar format. Both Xfm and Kerrang! have won a licence under regulators Ofcom in the last couple of years.
UTV, fresh from their win in Preston last week are proposing to extend their Talk format, whilst CanWest are keen to spread the Original brand further west after their Bristol licence win in September.
Finally, UK Media and Radio Wales are proposing Wicked FM, a full service modern rock station for people under 40.