17/98 5 March 1998


The Radio Authority will begin the formal process of licensing commercial digital radio by advertising the first and only national multiplex on 24 March. The multiplex on which the three existing INR services (Classic FM Virgin Radio and Talk Radio) will be simulcast will also be able to accommodate up to five new digital radio stations nation-wide.

The advertisement inviting applications for the national multiplex will appear in the Financial Times on Tuesday 24 March with a closing date for applications of 23 June. Applicants will be asked to submit their proposals in documents comprising two sections: publicly available material to include proposed programme and data services on which public representations may be invited; and detailed technical and financial information in a confidential section.

Speaking today (5 March) Sir Peter Gibbings Chairman of the Radio Authority said:

"The licensing of digital radio is about to begin with the Radio Authority's advertisement for the first and only national multiplex just a matter of weeks away. This is an exciting and groundbreaking time for all those involved with digital radio and we look forward to receiving applications of a high calibre."

Applications will be considered on merit not on a highest cash-bid basis; all applicants will be required to pay a 50 0 application fee. When making the award the Authority will take into account:

  • How much of Great Britain applicants plan to serve and by what timetable this will be achieved;
  • Whether applicants appear sufficiently resourced to deliver their proposals;
  • To what extent the new radio services proposed by applicants appeal to a variety of tastes and interests;
  • How applicants will encourage listeners to invest in new radio sets;
  • How fair applicants have been in contracting with those radio stations or data services who wish to appear on the multiplex.

The Authority expects to award the licence in the Autumn.

Final notes of guidance and details of the information required from applicants for the national multiplex will be available from the Authority when the licence is advertised.



The Radio Authority is responsible for licensing and regulating Independent Radio in accordance with the statutory requirements of the Broadcasting Acts 1990 and 1996 It plans frequencies awards licences regulates programming and advertising and plays an active role in the discussion and formulation of policies which affect the Independent Radio industry and its listeners. The 1996 Broadcasting Act laid the framework for the introduction of digital radio.

Contact: Tracey Mullins 0171 405 7058
Press and Information 0171 430 2724
Out of Hours 0370 375283