Business News Deals Media

Bauer and UTV to bid together for second UK-wide digital radio network

By | Published on Tuesday 15 July 2014

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Bauer and UTV this morning confirmed that they are teaming up with broadcast services group Arqiva to bid for the previously reported second digital radio multiplex.

Media regulator OfCom announced earlier this month that it was now accepting bids to operate a second digital radio network, which will operate alongside the existing national Digital One multiplex (also owned by Arqiva) and local DAB platforms.

A previous attempt to launch a second national DAB service, led by Channel 4, was aborted in 2008 and, with the number of digital-only stations very much in decline at the time, there was no immediate demand for the project to be resumed. But some people seem to think there is now enough interest in operating stations on the DAB digital network that a second national multiplex is needed.

Bauer owns national radio brands like Absolute, Magic, Kiss, Kerrang and Planet Rock as well as a plethora of local stations, while UTV operates talkSPORT and a network of local FMs, and both will broadcast services on the new DAB network if they are successful in their bid. Though other radio operators will be invited to take channels too, and interested parties are invited to contact Arqiva for information.

Confirming all this, reps from each partner in the bid issued statements this morning as follows…

Steve Holebrook, MD of Terrestrial Broadcast at Arqiva: “Radio’s future is undoubtedly digital and we are delighted to be working with Bauer and UTV to bid for the second national DAB multiplex licence which will help to realise that digital future. Our consortium has the necessary credentials to deliver this new network, and if our bid is successful we expect the result to be a significant broadening of choice for radio listeners”.

Paul Keenan, CEO at Bauer Media UK: “A new national DAB licence presents an exciting opportunity for listeners to discover new radio services and for us and the commercial radio industry to further extend reach and service. D2 will further accelerate digital growth in the UK”.

Scott Taunton, MD of UTV Media: “Ofcom’s advertisement of a new national DAB licence represents a vote of confidence for radio’s continuing relevance and strength as a broadcast medium. In Arqiva and Bauer we believe we have identified the right partners for UTV to formulate a bid for this licence and we look forward to developing our plans over the coming months”.