Evans in joint bid for digital radio with GWR

Ginger Media Group, the company formed by Chris Evans, has joined forces with GWR in a consortium to bid for the only UK national commercial digital radio licence, which was advertised this week by the Radio Authority.

Ginger Media Group, the company formed by Chris Evans, has joined

forces with GWR in a consortium to bid for the only UK national

commercial digital radio licence, which was advertised this week by the

Radio Authority.



The unusual bedfellows each already own a national radio licence - for

Virgin AM and Classic FM respectively - and between them command more

than 75 per cent of national commercial radio’s audience. Digital One,

as the consortium has been named, will begin broadcasting in 1999 if its

application is successful.



The national digital multiplex will carry the three national stations

currently broadcasting - Classic, Virgin and Talk Radio - and has room

for up to five more, for which the winning consortium will have

responsibility.



Quentin Howard, chief executive-designate of Digital One and head of

GWR’s digital division, explained: ’We are doing extensive audience

research and will use our findings to determine what format the new set

of stations will take. The aim of the business is to compete

head-to-head with the BBC.’



If the bid succeeds, Virgin and Classic would continue to be run as

separate entities, Howard said. He added: ’The new stations could be run

by individuals or by one entity.’



Ralph Bernard, chief executive of the GWR Group, said: ’Digital takes

radio into its third age, after AM and FM. It will become multimedia yet

retain all the strengths we enjoy in radio now - strong listener

loyalty, entertaining yet informative and, above all, portable and

personal.’