Arqiva, Bauer Radio and TalkSport owner UTV have come together to bid for a licence to launch a second DAB multiplex – the first having reached full capacity.
The companies have formed a consortium to apply to regulator Ofcom, which first invited companies to apply for a licence for a new, national radio multiplex service earlier this month.
A new radio multiplex would open up the capacity for 10 more digital radio stations.
The first DAB radio network, which was also started by a consortium of companies but is now operated solely by Arqiva, no longer has any bandwidth to launch additional stations.
If the bid is successful it could lead to a swathe of advertising opportunities around new radio content, given Bauer Radio and UTV are both commercially-driven networks.
The three companies have also invited other potentially interested third parties to submit their interest in operating stations as part of its licence application. All interested parties must apply directly to Arqiva from today (15 July).
Ofcom, which has described the application process as a “beauty contest”, will close applications by 30 October this year, with a decision to be made by early 2015.
Arqiva's managing director of terrestrial broadcast, Steve Holebrook, said the move will be core to the future of radio.
“Radio’s future is undoubtedly digital and we are delighted to be working with Bauer and UTV to bid for the second national DAB multiplex licence which will help to realise that digital future," he said. "Our consortium has the necessary credentials to deliver this new network, and if our bid is successful we expect the result to be a significant broadening of choice for radio listeners.”
Paul Keenan, chief executive, Bauer Media UK, said: “A new national DAB licence presents an exciting opportunity for listeners to discover new radio services and for us and the commercial radio industry to further extend reach and service. D2 will further accelerate digital growth in the UK”.
Scott Taunton, managing director of UTV Media (GB), added: “Ofcom’s advertisement of a new national DAB licence represents a vote of confidence for radio’s continuing relevance and strength as a broadcast medium. In Arqiva and Bauer we believe we have identified the right partners for UTV to formulate a bid for this licence and we look forward to developing our plans over the coming months.”
Bauer Radio reaches more than 22 million UK consumers weekly across its portfolio of brands which include, Magic, Kiss FM and Absolute Radio, while UTV – owner of sports broadcaster Talksport - owns 13 regional stations.