ANALYSIS: MEDIA TRACK - Capital dominates London radio as digital licences go under the hammer

As the radio industry prepares to follow the world of television into the digital age, it is only in the London region that bidding for the digital licences has so far been contested. The Radio Authority has advertised 11 digital licences across the country, two of which are to serve the capital. A third London digital licence will be advertised next year.

As the radio industry prepares to follow the world of television

into the digital age, it is only in the London region that bidding for

the digital licences has so far been contested. The Radio Authority has

advertised 11 digital licences across the country, two of which are to

serve the capital. A third London digital licence will be advertised

next year.



The high demand is the result of the busy radio environment in London,

where commercial radio programming has a larger scope than anywhere in

the country.



The first digital licence has been awarded to Emap and Capital Radio’s

CE Digital; Chrysalis and Border Radio are bidding for the second

licence with their MXR London consortium, and Virgin and Talk Radio have

formed the Switch Digital group to join the contest.



The latest Rajar figures (for June) show a wide range of audiences -

from First Love Radio, which takes only 0.01 per cent share of local

commercial listeners, to Capital 95.8FM’s fixed position at the top with

28.4 per cent.



Capital as a whole continues to dominate the sector. Capital 95.8FM,

along with the group’s smaller stations, Capital Gold and Xfm, give a

total share of the London commercial market of over 40 per cent.



The CE Digital consortium will provide nine programme services,

beginning in May 2000; a combination of the analogue services already

offered by the two groups will be augmented by rolling news and views

from two London News Radio stations and Asian programming produced by

Sunrise Radio. CE Digital plans to begin broadcasting its nine-station

service in May next year.



In the meantime, the other radio heavyweights will battle it out for the

second digital licence, applications for which must reach the Radio

Authority by January 2000. The award of the second London digital

licence will be announced in March.



MediaTel’s database is available at www.mediatel.co.uk. For more

information contact 0207-439 7575 or e-mail info@mediatel.co.uk.



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