Two more join London multiplex race

Another two radio groups are entering the battle to win the second Greater London digital multiplex licence as the deadline for applications approaches.

Another two radio groups are entering the battle to win the second

Greater London digital multiplex licence as the deadline for

applications approaches.



GWR Group, under chief executive Ralph Bernard, has formed a consortium

with Scottish Radio Holdings - called Score Now Limited - and will apply

for the second of the three Greater London licences. The licence will be

awarded next spring and the closing date for applications is 11

January.



If the consortium is successful, it plans to launch seven radio channels

into the digital marketplace via the multiplex.



The radio groups are not yet certain what the new channels will be, and

are still in talks with other service providers.



The new consortium is also waiting for the results of a research

initiative carried out by GWR to identify what listeners want to hear on

digital radio.



Gregory Watson, recently appointed director of operational strategy at

GWR, confirmed that the Opus digital division will sell for the

multiplex if it wins the licence. He also said that a raft of new

appointments will come with the new business.



Watson said: ’This is an open competition and it’s up to the Radio

Authority to award the licence to the best operator. But we have a good

track record and have already established the knowledge and experience

of digital radio, so this puts us in a good position to win the

multiplex.’



The respective groups already have a foot in the digital marketplace.

Scottish Radio Holdings’ digital arm, Score Digital was awarded the

Glasgow digital multiplex licence - to go on air next January - and will

continue to bid for both the Edinburgh and Northern Ireland multiplex

licence.



GWR’s Now Digital limited has submitted bids for licences in

Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury and Telford. Both groups will continue to

operate respective digital subsidiaries to focus on the regional

market.



The GWR group also has a 63 per cent interest in Digital One, the

national commercial multiplex operator which launched last week with

five national services. These include Planet Rock, Core, Classic FM,

Talk Radio and Virgin.



So far, the new bidders are up against Chrysalis Radio, Talk Radio and

Virgin Radio, which all lost the first Greater London licence to

Emap.



Chrysalis is applying as a consortium called MXR - containing Border

Soul Media and the Daily Mail Group.Virgin Radio and Talk are applying

as a consortium with Clear Channel International, under the name Switch

Digital.



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