Channel 4 wins DAB licence

Channel 4 meant business when they said they wanted to shake up the UK radio industry. And today they have proven it by winning the second national DAB multiplex, which will serve the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. The only other application was from National Grid Wireless Limited.

4 Digital Group will offer many new stations, including E4 Radio, Channel 4 Radio, Talk Radio, Sky News Radio Radio Disney, Pure4, Closer and a female version of Virgin Radio. In addition, CanWest’s Original and LMC’s Sunrise Radio will provide a national service.

Commenting on the success of the consortium’s bid, Nathalie Schwarz, who is Chair of 4 Digital Group and also Channel 4’s Director of Radio, said:

“This is a fantastic day for 4 Digital Group and an exciting one for the future of digital radio in the UK. We have worked very hard with all our consortium partners over the last year to reach this point – we will now work together to deliver our commitments and live-up to our vision of securing the future of commercial digital radio in the UK.

“I would like to thank all the organisations and individuals who have contributed over the past 12 months to the development and submission of our application to win the new licence.”

4 Digital Group Limited proposes to commence its service with eight national digital sound programme services and at least nine podcast providers within 12 months of the licence being awarded, using a network of 174 transmitters which it estimates will provide 'outdoor' coverage of 86.6% of the adult (aged 15+) population of the UK. Two further national digital sound programme services will launch "at the earliest opportunity thereafter, and in any event within the following 11 months".

Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: 'Today's licence award is an important development for radio listeners who will benefit from a greater variety of commercial national radio services. The award will give a real boost to the DAB platform, which we believe will form the cornerstone of radio provision in the future.'

4 Digital Group has committed to spend £4.5m on general marketing of DAB in the first three years of the 12 year licence period, together with "over £25m marketing spend to support the launch of the individual new radio services". 4 Digital Group also commits to working with the BBC, retailers and manufacturers to help promote DAB.

Shareholders in 4Digital are Channel 4 Radio Limited (55%), Sky News Radio Limited (10%), Emap Digital Radio Limited (10%), UTV Radio (GB) Limited (10%), The Carphone Warehouse Group plc (10%) and UBC Media Group plc (5%).

“Emap is excited to be adding a new dimension to the Closer brand by delivering Closer Radio’s unique combination of music and lifestyle content to a national radio audience." said Paul Keenan, CEO, Emap Consumer Media.

Scott Taunton, Managing Director, UTV Radio (GB) said: "We are delighted to be part of the winning consortium and I think the array of channels we have put together will significantly help the industry drive towards digital. This marks an important step for UTV Radio as we look forward to launching our second national speech channel, Talk Radio to complement our successful talkSPORT service."

Sky News Radio will now provide the country with 24 hour breaking news. John Ryley, Head of Sky News said: "This is a really exciting development. It means Sky News Radio will provide the UK’s first national radio channel truly dedicated to 24-hour news, providing real choice for listeners. The station will be the first place for breaking news and reflect on our commitment to providing first-class reporting, analysis and information on radio, TV and online".

The first national licence was won by GWR (Now GCap Media). The only other bid, from National Grid Wireless would have provided the UK with several new services including from Radio Luxembourg, Premier Christian Radio and FUN Radio. In addition, they would have offered an album station, a love station, a rolling news operation and a service for 50+ year olds.

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