NOWdigital has won the new local DAB digital multiplex for Oxfordshire. NOW, owned by GCap and Passion Radio (Oxford) (owners of JACK fm and FM107.9), beat off stiff competition from MuxCo and will provide nine digital channels including BBC Radio Oxford.
NOW will provide simulcasts of Fox FM, Jack FM and Oxford’s FM 107.9 whilst Xfm and UCB will now be heard in the area for the first time locally. In addition, My-fm will offer a Soft Adult Alternative and Traffic Radio will offer non-stop travel news.
Clive Dickens from Absolute Radio says: "Arqiva nominated Station of the Year Oxford's FM1079 and recently launched JACK fm will now be able to heard by the whole of Oxfordshire along with the UK'S First Soft Adult Alternative radio station my-fm, we are thrilled to be
able to extend real choice to the whole County for the first time in years."
MuxCo, who were particually proud of their bid against NOW, are natually disappointed in the result. Managing Director Gregory Watson told RadioToday.co.uk: "We believed (and still do) that our application had the widest and more interesting choice of services for listeners, so we're a bit down that Ofcom awarded the licence to GCap Media. Listeners in Oxfordshire will now be the poorer for the result.
"It is hard not to be put off by the decision (especially with Northants going to GCap Media as well last month). However, we still believe that our model has greater benefits for both local operators and local listeners, and will continue to argue our case in upcoming licences, with applications submitted for North Yorkshire and Gloucestershire. Having only a limited number of DAB multiplex owners concentrates power with a few large entities, with the potential for central rather than local decisions making reducing choice for listeners."