C4 in digital challenge to BBC radio

Channel 4 has announced a major expansion into radio – and plans to
use its credentials in news and current affairs to help secure a
licence to operate the UK’s second national digital radio multiplex.

The
television broadcaster, which bought a majority stake in digital radio
station Oneword last March, is looking for partners in the commercial
radio sector to bid jointly for the new DAB multiplex expected to be
advertised by Ofcom later this year.

Channel 4 chief executive
Andy Duncan told delegates at the convention that he wanted to offer a
public service alternative to the BBC in news and current affairs, as
well as entertainment, lifestyle and comedy.

He said: “With the
BBC currently taking 56 per cent of all radio listening, the commercial
sector could do with a shot of new energy and the BBC could do with
some public service competition.”

Duncan added that Channel 4 had
already produced a new radio current affairs series, fronted by the
station’s news anchor Jon Snow, looking at youth issues.

The first edition was broadcast on Oneword last week and is available to download as a podcast on the Channel 4 website.

“Some
of our programmes and our talent automatically lend themselves to being
able to be used in radio in quite an exciting way,” Duncan said.

A national DAB multiplex has enough capacity for eight national digital radio networks.

GCap
Media, owner of stations such as 95.8 Capital FM and Xfm, currently
holds the country’s only national DAB multiplex and is fighting the
loss of exclusivity.

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