Channel 4 sets sights on BBC as it wins digital radio multiplex

Channel 4 has promised to challenge the BBC’s “80-year dominance of speech radio” after winning the licence for the new digital multiplex.

4 Digital Consortium, led by Channel 4, beat rival National Grid Wireless to win the licence from Ofcom and will launch 10 new national radio stations in the UK on DAB digital radio, extending commercial radio into areas that have traditionally been the preserve of the BBC, such as news, current affairs, drama and documentaries.

Channel 4 director of radio Nathalie Schwarz told Press Gazette: “In the same way that the BBC has healthy budgets, Channel 4 still manages to hold its own ground and we believe we can do the same thing in radio.

We’ll be taking a few risks and taking the boldness and attitude you might not find in the BBC. This will take investment in the same way that any new venture will.”

The line-up features three Channel 4-branded stations, including Channel 4 Radio which has been dubbed as a rival to Radio 4, aimed at a slightly younger audience. It will broadcast an early morning news and analysis programme, similar to Radio 4’s flagship Today programme.

Trevor Dann, the director of the Radio Academy, told Press Gazette: “Perhaps the divide we see at the moment between the BBC, which is well funded, and commercial radio, which is struggling, is not going to be such a divide because there’s a player in the middle. I think we’re all talking about what that’s going to do to the ecology of radio and what that’s going to give the listener.”

Schwarz would not reveal how many journalists the three C4- branded stations would employ, but stressed the stations would be wellresourced.

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