Telegraph to take on BBC with launch of radio station

LONDON - The Telegraph Group is looking to take on the BBC with a move into national radio, and is set to launch a format called Telegraph Talk.

Industry sources said that the group registered the name last month ahead of a launch next year. It is set to enter the bidding for the second national digital multiplex, advertised by Ofcom last week, and is also looking at extending the Talk format across mobile and the internet.

The service is described by sources as "a 24/7 linear service to take on the BBC" and the Telegraph Group is said to have content and presenters already in place.

The move into talk radio follows the Telegraph Group's frequent podcasting ventures, and has been accelerated since the arrival six weeks ago of Shaun Gregory, the former managing director of national brands at Emap Radio, as its development director.

Gregory, who was appointed by Murdoch MacLennan, the Telegraph Group chief executive, has extensive experience of building radio brands and distribution. The move into radio will add to the Telegraph Group's cross-platform credentials with its print titles already part of a news service that includes a partnership with ITN to create online video content.

Since Ofcom advertised the second digital multiplex last week, it has emerged that Channel 4, UBC Media and UTV Radio are likely to form a consortium to bid. The Telegraph Group is likely to open talks with the bidding consortia ahead of the March deadline for submissions.

Gregory admitted: "The national multiplex is, of course, on our radar and we are currently assessing the opportunity and what it could mean for our business. I wouldn't rule out a move into radio."

The Telegraph Group has been making early strides in implementing its cross-media strategy since moving to new offices in London's Victoria. Last week, The Daily Telegraph broke the story about Michael Grade defecting to ITV with a mixture of online, video and print content.

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