Channel 4 has claimed that its bid for the new digital radio multiplex would bring a huge benefit to journalism.
The broadcaster told Press Gazette that it had formed an alliance with 11 universities across the country that run digital media courses, enabling Channel 4 to "tap into the best new talent" as well as hiring established journalists.
Channel 4 director of radio Nathalie Schwarz said: "We would be creating a huge range of jobs — much more work for journalists. We'd be extending commercial radio [into] areas such as news, current affairs, drama, and documentaries — areas that have traditionally been the preserve of the BBC"
Channel 4 has condemned its rival bidder, National Grid Wireless, for including two Channel 4 stations in its application to Ofcom for the UK's second licence to operate a national multiplex of digital commercial radio stations.Channel 4 and NGW both submitted their proposals to Ofcom last week, with NGW including both a Channel 4 music station and a talk-based service without Channel 4's prior knowledge.
Schwarz said: "The stations that they've created have been done without any reference to Channel 4. For us, it's as important to make sure we have distinctive content of our own, but also that we work with other people that share the same vision and that have the same ability to be able to market their services and invest in their services.
"It's not as simple as saying: ‘Why don't you come onto our multiplex?' — the whole thing stands and falls as a united, cohesive package."Channel 4's bid — backed by a consortium including Emap Radio, UTV and Virgin Radio owner SMG — is a 10-channel line-up. It includes Sky News Radio, a joint venture between BSkyB and Chrysalis Radio. Channel 4's own-branded services include a speech-based station, named Channel 4 Radio, plus two music stations.
NGW unveiled a 12-station line-up, with partners including the BBC and GCap Media. It has also included a 24-hour rolling news channel, but the service provider has remained confidential.
Tony Moretta, general manager of broadcasting at NGW and leader of the bid, said of the decision to include Channel 4 content: "We put them in our bid because we think it is a good idea for Channel 4 to get into commercial radio. Channel 4-branded radio stations will be very strong.
"If you look at the Channel 4 bid, the most exciting thing about the line-up are the actual Channel 4 services themselves. Not only do we think that, but we think that Ofcom will recognise that. [If they lose the bid] they would still have a radio service. "
Ofcom has invited applications from the commercial sector for the new DAB stations partly to enable commercial radio to better compete with the BBC, which currently holds a 55 per cent share of UK radio listening.