MEDIA: Three tussle for digital licence

Score Now, a consortium equally owned by GWR Group, Guardian Media Group and Scottish Radio, was the only new group to apply for London’s second digital licence when bidding closed this week.

Score Now, a consortium equally owned by GWR Group, Guardian Media

Group and Scottish Radio, was the only new group to apply for London’s

second digital licence when bidding closed this week.



Two other contenders, MXR London and Switch Digital, also applied and

failed to win the first digital multiplex licence, which was awarded by

the Radio Authority in September last year.



Under the terms of the Radio Authority, powers of commissioning and

editorial control will reside with the individual service providers on

each channel.



Score Now’s case for the licence rests on the promise of a raft of six

new popular music stations that will only be available on digital. ’The

first London licence rightly went to existing stations. The second

should be reserved for something new. And that is what we are offering -

an expansion of consumer choice,’ said a Score Now spokesperson.



The only change in the other two bids was the apparently unlikely

inclusion of mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse, which has become

a five per cent shareholder in the Switch Digital group. The retailer

has 235 stores in Greater London and is one of the heaviest radio

advertisers in London.



Rather than acting as a programme provider, Carphone Warehouse is

thought to be interested in the provision of data services.



MXR meanwhile is hanging its case on the range and balances of services

it is offering. ’We have a spread of music, symmetry between upmarket

and mass-market services, and a service aimed at one of London’s largest

ethnic communities,’ said a spokesman.



This is the second of three multiplex licences planned for London. A

decision is expected in three months.The Radio Authority will only

advertise the third licence after the second has been awarded.



THE APPLICANTS AND THEIR PROGRAMME PROPOSALS

Score Now

Shareholders                     Proposed programme service

Score Digital 33.3%              Pop country; soft AC and speech;

GWR Group 33.3%                  male rock; adult contemporary;

GMG Radio Holdings 33.3%         jazz r’n’b; soul; 45 life; club dance


MXR London

Proposed shareholder structure   Proposed programme service

Chrysalis Group 45%              Melodic adult contemporary;

Border Radio Holdings 35%;       rhythmic hits; music and talk;

DMG Radio 10%                    jazz; Afro-Caribbean; top 40;

Soul Media 10%                   mature rock and pop


Switch Digital

Shareholders                     Proposed programme service

Wireless Group 42.5%             Classic soul; adult contemporary;

Clear Channel                    speech/music; classic rock and

International UK 42.5%           sport; easy listening; chart hits

Ginger Media Group 10%           and club dance; jazz, soul

Carphone Warehouse 5%            and blues; traffic and travel news



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