Channel 4's rival to Today Programme looking unlikely

Channel 4’s plans to take on BBC Radio appear to be crumbling after chief executive of Channel 4 told Media Week that the broadcaster’s digital radio plans have been scaled down with only one of the three planned Channel 4 branded radio stations now confirmed for launch.

In July last year Channel 4 told Press Gazette it intended to challenge the BBC’s “80-year dominance of speech radio” after winning the licence for the new digital multiplex.

Original plans included Channel 4 Radio, pitched as the rival to Radio 4, which promised an early morning news and analysis programme similar to Radio 4’s flagship Today programme.

Channel 4 now plans only to launch E4 Radio, a spin off of the digital TV channel aimed at teenagers, as it ‘represents the quickest prospect of a commercial return from radio”.

Duncan told Media Week: “We are now looking at a more staggered plan and deferring stations. The focus in the short term is E4 Radio, but we are involved in industry-wide chats about the future of digital radio.”

The cutbacks come after Channel 4 announced plans to axe 150 jobs and save £100m over the next two years, another credit crunch casualty.

A stark contrast to last summer when Channel 4 director of radio Nathalie Schwarz told Press Gazette that the new channels would be ‘wellresourced’and a ripple of excitement spread through the industry at the prospect of new jobs being created.

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