Garrison Radio is putting itself forward to take over the contract to provide official broadcasts to British Forces when the current one ends in 2013.
The new deal – to replace BFBS' existing agreement – will require the winning bidder to provide audio and visual media to UK forces throughout the world.
Garrison Radio has submitted an expression of interest to the Ministry of Defence and intends to tender for the 'Future Forces Broadcasting' contract when it is offered in the New Year.
The current radio and TV operations across the globe – and a UK-wide digital radio station – are provided by BFBS at the moment through the services' charity SSVC.
Garrison Radio was founded by former Radio 1 DJ Mark Page in 2001 and now broadcasts to bases throughout the UK on FM and AM in Aldershot, Catterick, Colchester, Edinburgh, Salisbury Plain, Bassingbourn, Glencorse and Wattisham. The private company was formed when the army decided it wanted to have its own radio service for its troops based in Britain as part of an army communications initiative. Garrison Radio says it puts an emphasis on bringing army news to soldiers, their families and the wider army community.
From 2013 the new company will be expected to provide audio and audio-visual media to UK forces around the world, including those on board ships and serving in some of the world’s toughest environments. As well as news and content of particular relevance to the military the broadcaster will be expected to provide the same variety of entertainment as would be received on TV and radio at home, including sports, soaps, dramas, music and movies.
We understand Mark Page is currently in discussion with a number of potential partners in the television, radio and telecommunications industries with a view to forming a high-tech consortium to bid for the contract.
He told RadioToday.co.uk: "This is an opportunity to re-think how we provide relevant entertainment and news to our forces – whether they are deployed in the field or based here at home. They deserve the best we can give them – and that is a technological as well as an editorial challenge, so we’re keen to hear from anyone who thinks they could help."
Update – 12 November:
RadioToday.co.uk understands that BFBS does intend to tender for the new contract next year too but a spokesman for the service declined our offer to make further comment at this time.