The digital radio multiplex for Herts, Beds and Bucks was awarded to NOWdigital last week, which propose to launch their service in the next 12 months. Ofcom has explained why, out of two applications, the GCap Media bid was considered the best choice for local listeners.
Six out of the eight services to be carried by NOWdigital are provided by GCap Media, with Absolute Radio and UCB providing the extra two channels. All except one station (Absolute’s Jack FM) are already broadcasting. This is something Ofcom liked, as it enabled the service to be transmitting as soon as possible.
Ofcom also noted how NOWdigital or it’s partners already operate 19 local radio multiplex services and can provide a strong security of income given that all of the proposed service providers have signed firm agreements already.
The competition for the licence came from new boys MuxCo, who are applying for multiplex licences around the UK, where they feel they have a good chance of winning. They are currently bidding for Northeast Wales & West Cheshire, and Herefordshire & Worcestershire. Both bids are up against an application from NOWdigital. MuxCo was created by Gregory Watson (who co-wrote Digital One’s original licence application) and Deanna Hallett.
Ofcom awarded the licence on the following conditions.
> The implementation by July 2008 of the seven transmitters (including either Stevenage (Pin Green) or Brookmans Park) and transmission parameters proposed in the application, or alternative transmission sites and parameters which offer broadly equivalent coverage;
> The provision of all eight local digital sound programme services from the launch of the multiplex service;
> The provision of the local digital sound programme services as proposed in the application
BBC Three Counties Radio will also be carried on the new multiplex.
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