Ofcom has named Listen2Digital and Sound Digital in the running for the second national, commercial digital radio multiplex in the UK, which will deliver around 15 new national DAB stations from 2016.
Ofcom invited applications in July 2014 to operate a new DAB multiplex and said bids will be assessed on the innovation they can bring to the UK radio industry and audiences.
Applications have been received from Listen2Digital and Sound Digital. Ofcom plans to award one of these a license by summer 2015, with the first new digital stations expected to be on air by 2016.
Sound Digital is a consortium of transmission company Arqiva, and commercial radio broadcasters Bauer and UTV Media GB.
Scott Taunton, chief operating officer, UTV Media plc, said: “Sound Digital’s plans combine popular, well-loved brands such as the return of Virgin Radio with unique content including three brand new speech radio stations.
“The result will be a major increase in choice for audiences that already have digital radio, and a surge in take-up from those that don’t. This is fantastic news not just for listeners but for the wider radio industry.”
Listen2Digital is a joint application from Babcock’s Media Services business and Orion Media, a commercial group.
Phil Riley, founder of Orion, said: “I have long thought that the UK Radio industry needed more choice, and more competition, in the provision of DAB, and I think our bid delivers that.
“A new transmission provider for the industry, and over a dozen new services, many of them exclusively on our bid, is a great outcome for the consortium and we are thrilled to be submitting this application today.”
The first national, commercial DAB multiplex that launched in 2009 reached full capacity last year, prompting Ofcom to advertise a second multiplex in July 2014.
Ofcom plans to publish non-confidential versions of the applicant proposals and invite comments from listeners and industry in the coming weeks.
DTG Staff | 02.02.2015