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Listen2Digital bids to bring diversity to DAB digital radio

The second runner in the bid to secure the licence for the second national commercial DAB multiplex has been identified as Listen2Digital. 

Listen2Digital is backed by Orion Media - owner of Free Radio and Gem 106 in the West and East Midlands, and engineering support services organisation Babcock International Group PLC. Partners in the bid include Folder Media and Asian broadcaster Sabras Sound.

Bauer, UTV and Arqiva had already signaled their intention to bid for the 'Digital 2' licence, but an announcement by Ofcom delaying the deadline for applications confirmed in the autumn that a hitherto unknown second applicant was also planning to apply.

Listen2Digital is chaired by Orion founder Phil Riley and plans to offer 18 DAB digital radio stations on the multiplex, with a diverse range of new and existing stations, with a promise to launch services devoted to children, country music, jazz and blues and modern rock, alongside services for Asian and Irish audiences.

Orion | Babcock 
in partnership with Folder Media and Sabras Sound
Proposed stations
Food channel
New service. Provisional name.
Fun Kids
For children from Folder Media. London DAB station going national.
The Wireless
From Age UK. Going national.
Share Radio
Business news. London DAB station going national.
RTÉ Radio 1
Irish public service broadcaster’s national station. Currently broadcast on longwave.
A national version of Orion’s Gem 106 station, broadcast in the East Midlands, that took over from Heart on 1st January 2011. Similar music.
Top 40
Chart / contemporary.
Male contemporary music station.
Modern rock station
Details to be confirmed.
Jazz and blues station
Details to be confirmed.
Sports talk station
Details to be confirmed.
Country music station
Details to be confirmed.
LGBT station. Going national.
Sabras Sound
A national service from the Asian broadcaster that started as an opt-out for Leicester on Gem-AM.
Panjab Radio
Asian radio service. Going national.
Premier Radio (x2)
Two services from Premier Christian Radio
Upload Radio
A station for independent radio producers.

If Listen2Digital won the licence, it would aim to launch in Spring 2016 and reach of 80% of the UK population.

Comments from the shareholders in Listen2Digital:
Orion Media's Phil Riley: 
“I have long thought that the UK Radio industry needed more choice, and more competition, in the provision of DAB, and I think our bid delivers that. A new transmission provider for the industry, and over a dozen new services, many of them exclusively on our bid, is a great outcome for the consortium and we are thrilled to be submitting this application today. Conscious of the importance of this multiplex to the future of the radio industry, I have also today moved into the new role of Chairman of Orion Media Ltd, the group’s main trading company, in order to allow me greater time to commit to this new venture, if successful."

Babcock's, Leah Holding, Director, Media Services:
“We are delighted to be working alongside Orion Media in this application for the UK’s second national digital radio multiplex. Babcock’s Media Services business is trusted to deliver radio and television content to audiences around the world; we are excited at this opportunity to apply our proven experience of transmission service management to the UK’s commercial radio industry.”

Digital 2

Further coverage of plans to launch a second national commercial DAB digital radio multiplex.


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