4Digital Radio Consortium Collapses; Is There Any Future For DAB?


After Channel 4’s abrupt u-turn on its digital radio plans in October as a result of it’s on-going funding problems, now the remaining members of the 4Digital industry consortium on digital radio have quietly called it a day. MediaWeek.com reports that at two board meetings in the past fortnight Bauer Media, UBC Media, UTV, Carphone Warehouse and BSkyB (NYSE: BSY) decided to wind up the consortium and give the licence back to Ofcom. The quintet is apparently waiting for Channel 4, which was the majority shareholder with 50 percent, to provide full accounts for the venture before letting go entirely — MediaWeek reports that a board meeting on December 5 had to be stopped because a lack of information.

It doesn’t bode well for the digital radio sector — the BBC continues to increase its reach through DAB, helped in no small part by its own advertising campaigns, but the commercial sector has stalled. Channel 4 spoke of ending the BBC’s dominance of speech radio and the group’s bid impressed Ofcom enough to win a series of 12-year licences back in July 2007. But 18 months later the plan has petered out into nothing and the licence will go back to Ofcom. Will any other digital radio producers make a new bid for the licences? When Channel 4 backed out Ofcom it said it

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