Digital radio prepares for five-station launch

Digital One, the UK national commercial digital radio network, will launch a limited service on November 15 with five of the ten stations the network will eventually transmit.

A national commercial radio insider says: “This is the date we are all working towards and it is when press advertising will break.”

The five stations to launch first on the digital airwaves include Classic FM, Talk Radio, a classic rock station, and a teenage music station aimed at young girls, jointly owned by radio group GWR and cable concern NTL. Virgin Radio is expected to be the fifth station, as it is close to ending a dispute it has had with Digital One over how much it should pay to be carried on the network.

Digital One is 67 per cent owned by GWR, with the remaining stake held by cable network NTL.

Digital One chief executive Quentin Howard says that the remaining stations will join the network at a rate of one a month from December.

Independent Radio News is expected to run the rolling news service, and Talk Radio’s rolling sports service will begin in January.

The companies which will run the three remaining stations – soft adult contemporary music, a dance music station and an arts, book and comedy station – have yet to be announced by Digital One.

Governing body the Radio Authority awarded Digital One its licence in October 1998.

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