Listen2Digital submit application for second national digital radio multiplex

From a press release to
Posted 29 January 2015, 10.44am est

Orion Media and the UK’s leading engineering support services organisation, Babcock International Group PLC, have today announced that they, along with a number of other partners, have teamed up to submit an application for the second national digital radio multiplex, advertised by Ofcom in July 2014.

The bid, Listen2Digital, which will be chaired by Orion founder Phil Riley, is proposing 18 new services, significantly broadening radio choice for listeners across the UK.

The multiplex is planned to launch in Spring 2016, aiming to cover over 80% of the UK population, with a broad mix of innovative services including a station for food lovers; a kids station; a station aimed at older listeners; two speech stations offering financial advice and sports news/commentary; Christian and Asian services; a service for the LGBT community; along with both mainstream music services and specialist music channels for fans of modern rock, jazz and country.

A number of the services will be available on the new, upgraded DAB+ platform, which Listen2Digital is pledging to trial as part of its bid. Listen2Digital will also be giving independent programme producers a unique opportunity to get their material (including one-offs, seasons and events) distributed to a national audience via ‘Upload Radio’.

The transmission of the multiplex will be managed for Listen2Digital by Babcock International Group PLC. They have proven experience of this type of project, having worked extensively on UK digital TV switchover, together with their long-standing heritage working with international broadcasters. Alongside providing transmission services, Babcock will also be a major shareholder in the consortium.

Commenting on the bid, Orion Media's Phil Riley said “I have long thought that the UK Radio industry needed more choice, and more competition, in the provision of DAB, and I think our bid delivers that. A new transmission provider for the industry, and over a dozen new services, many of them exclusively on our bid, is a great outcome for the consortium and we are thrilled to be submitting this application today. Conscious of the importance of this multiplex to the future of the radio industry, I have also today moved into the new role of Chairman of Orion Media Ltd, the group’s main trading company, in order to allow me greater time to commit to this new venture, if successful."

Speaking on behalf of Babcock, Leah Holding, Director, Media Services said “We are delighted to be working alongside Orion Media in this application for the UK’s second national digital radio multiplex. Babcock’s Media Services business is trusted to deliver radio and television content to audiences around the world; we are excited at this opportunity to apply our proven experience of transmission service management to the UK’s commercial radio industry.”

It is expected that Ofcom will announce their decision on the winning bid for D2 in Spring 2015.

A full list of the channels being offered is as follows: • A food channel • A national children’s station, Fun Kids, where children can learn and be entertained • Wireless, a station aimed at older listeners, from Age UK • A national station for financial and money news, Share Radio • RTE1, a simulcast of the principal channel of Irish public-service broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann • Gem, a national version of Orion’s adult contemporary music station, featuring ‘Sam & Amy’ • Nation, a soft rock station • Top 40, a contemporary hits station • A modern rock, indie/alternative station for a trend-setting audience • A specialist jazz, blues and soul station • A new sports talk station • A country music service, embracing the new energy surrounding the genre in the UK • Gaydio, targeting the LGBT community • Two Asian stations: Sabras Sound and Panjab Radio • Two Christian stations from Premier Christian Radio • Upload radio, an innovative channel for independent radio producers

Other shareholders in the bid include digital media company and Fun Kids owner Folder Media and heritage Asian broadcaster Sabras Sound. A number of the executives who have worked to bring the bid to fruition are also joining as minority shareholders.

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