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Two companies have bid to control the UK’s second digital radio network, giving them the opportunity to operate up to a dozen new DAB (digital audio broadcasting) stations and other services. Confirmation came this morning from media regulator Ofcom, which is holding a beauty contest:-
– 4 Digital: A consortia led by commercial public service broadcaster Channel 4 along with BSkyB, Emap, UTV, Chrysalis, Carphone Warehouse and UBC. Claims CanWest, Disney, BSkyB and FT amongst content providers, with channels including Sky News Radio (News Corp’s 24-hour TV news channel already syndicates news bulletins to some radio networks). Promises better EPG on radios’ on-screen read-outs, mobile TV over a portion of the spectrum, music downloads and traffic data.
more information on radio set’s on-screen EPGs as well as mobile TV delivered over a portion of its spectrum.
– National Grid Wireless: The infrastructure builder responsible for the UK’s TV transmission network is pitching a more middle-of-the-road 12-station line-up including Premier Christian and Radio Luxembourg, but is throwing plenty of cash at the bid. A pledge of 14 million GBP over 11 years to a joint marketing effort involving the BBC and GCap, aimed at driving adoption of digital radio in general, may woo Ofcom – but Channel 4’s line-up appears closer to the regulator’s requirement for “distinctive” offerings and suggests more innovative, multi-platform packages.
Ofcom will consult on the proposals until end of April with the winning stations expected on air by 2008.