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
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.