According to Arqiva, the move follows "a strategic review of its scope to offer data capacity" on the digital terrestrial platform. The capacity will be sold off in an auction.
It is thought that the capacity is available on the Arqiva A multiplex, which unlike other multiplexes transmitting digital terrestrial television services in the UK is still comparatively under-utilised. For most of the day, the multiplex only carries 11 TV services and 1 radio station, whereas the Arqiva B multiplex is loaded with 12 TV services, plus 9 radio stations. The 1Mbps capacity is not sufficient for a TV station, which would require at least double the advertised capacity for a reduced resolution (544x576) service.
Although Freeview already offers most of the main radio stations in the UK, there are some notable exceptions including Global Radio's Classic FM and Gold networks. However, Classic FM appears to have already ruled itself out, stating on its website: "due to the cost of broadcast on this platform, there are no immediate plans to launch Classic FM on Freeview".
Absolute Radio's popular spin-off stations Absolute 80s, 90s and 00s and Bauer Media's Planet Rock are all absent from Freeview.
On Freeview, radio stations can also opt to carry data services, such as the BBC radio stations which offer extra content via the red button. The advertised capacity could alternatively be used by data/text services such as those currently available on Freeview channel 200 upward if radio broadcasters do not bid or don't bid high enough for the space.
Interested parties have until the 22nd February to register their interest to Arqiva.