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News archive: 13th December 2000 to 10th March 2001

Archived stories can be found below. Please be patient while the page loads.


                             Saturday, 10th March

MXR adds fourth digital licence to its awards

MXR has won the regional digital radio licence for the North-West region, bringing Fun Radio (children's radio), Jazz FM 100.4, The Arrow (classic rock), Smooth (easy listening), DNN (rolling news radio), Galaxy 102 (dance and rhythmic hits), 105.4 Century FM (adult contemporary music, talk and sports commentary), Heart (melodic music) and Urban Flava to digital radio for the area by the end of September this year.

MXR has already won regional digital licences to serve the North-East of England, South Wales and The West, and The Midlands. The new licence covers Manchester, Lancashire and Liverpool. The company was competing against the Digital Radio Group and North West Digital Ltd. For a full list of their proposed services, please see our new story of 16th January.

Friday, 2nd March

Access Radio proposals from RA

The Radio Authority, which regulates commercial radio in the UK, has put forward its proposal for Access Radio - the 'not for profit' radio system. It includes recommendations that Access Radio should receive both public and commercial funding. Public funding would exist in the form of subscription, local fundraising and a future Radio Fund. Commercial funding, it is proposed, would be drawn from the area in which a station was to be set up. The new regulator due to replace the Authority, OFCOM, would have to take into consideration existing stations in the area in licencing Access stations. A proposed Radio Fund could offer financial assistance and receive money from the Lottery, charities or donations.

Sunday, 25th February

Review of Sony and VideoLogic home tuners

Bristol's Sound and Vision 2001 took place over the weekend and we have short reviews of the Sony and VideoLogic home tuners. Read about these digital hi-fi tuners here.

Friday, 16th February

Heart London to launch £2million ad campaign

London's Heart 106.2 will launch a £2 million marketing campaign this Monday, 19th February as it seeks a new image and concentrates more on adult "lifestyle" music from the seventies through to the present day. The station's new message will be "The right song, Right now". The campaign will remind listeners that the station plays the right song for all parts of the day and night. Hoping to increase its audience outside of the capital, Heart's message will be seen on 50 taxis and 5 new 4-wheel drive Ravs as part of the Ground Crew. There are also plans to feature the campaign on double-decker buses travelling between London, Gatwick and Heathrow. The new campaign will run alongside the current TV promotion on Carlton, LWT and Channels 4 and 5.

Chrysalis Radio Marketing Director, Steve Parkinson, said:

"This new lifestyle creative campaign follows months of music research and a number of improvements to the output. The images position Heart 106.2 in a fresher, more fun context than before which reflects where the brand is going. The product is the best its been and we obviously aim to capitalise on the longer listening hours the station has just celebrated."

Thursday, 15th February

Hertbeat set to launch on 3rd March

It has been confirmed that the new local radio station for areas of Hertfordshire, Hertbeat FM, will launch on 3rd March. This follows news of Dumbarton's Castle Rock FM which, as we reported last month, is planning to launch in April. The jingle package for Hertbeat FM has been provided by Steve England. The station's webcam is up and running and hands-on training sessions have begun in the studios for freelance presenters. You'll find more information on our air today page.

Monday, 12th February

MXR wins regional digital multiplex licence

MXR has won the regional digital radio licence for the Midlands, which means the launch of Fun Radio (children's radio), Jazz FM, The Arrow (classic rock), Smooth (easy listening), DNN (rolling news radio), Galaxy 102.2 (urban and rhythmic music), 100.7 Heart FM (melodic), Saga Radio (music from the fifties, sixties and seventies with recent chart music, and talk) and BBC Asian Network (music and news for the asian community) by August 2001. The exception will be DNN, which will launch in the Autumn.

What price would you put on digital radio?

We're conducting a survey about the price of digital radio for the car and home. Visit our feedback page for more details and to vote.

Thursday, 8th February

Mint FM claims Kendal and Windermere licence

Mint FM has won the local radio licence for Kendal and Windermere in the Lake District. The licence winner, whose major shareholder is Carlisle's CN Group, will provide 'a broad mix of the most popular music of the last forty years, together with up to the minute local, national and international news and sport, for a target age group of 25-54 year olds'.

Wednesday, 7th February

Fusion radio launch sites

Fusion Radio 107.3 for South London and Fusion Radio 107.9 for Oxford have both launched websites this week. The new stations, formerly FLR 107.3 and Oxygen 107.9, also offer live audio over the internet. We're providing links to listen on our live audio page.

New digital radio services

New local digital radio stations launched last week. Please see our air today section for a full round-up of the services. We've also included the new stations in our comprehensive station directory.

Tuesday, 6th February

radionow.co.uk launches new look

radionow.co.uk is back with a new look today. It is hoped the site will be easier to navigate, with a cleaner look and new logo. Our new dedicated page for live audio brings together more than eighty stations, including The Storm on local digital radio in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Wolverhampton and Bristol. Our listings provide a comprehensive overview of broadcasting stations within the UK. We hope you like the new look. Please let us know of any problems with the site via our feedback page.

Tuesday, 30th January

Digital One add more transmitters

National commercial digital multiplex operator Digital One, and its partner, NTL, have switched on four new transmitters this month bringing digital radio to more than 2.8 million people either for the first time or with improved service.

Listeners in the West Midlands, Cheltenham and Gloucester, Bromsgrove and the Swindon area of West Wiltshire can now tune in to Digital One’s seven digital only national radio stations and existing national stations Classic FM, Virgin Radio and talkSPORT, in digital audio. Please see our national listings for available stations and to listen live.

Monday, 29th January

Castle Rock FM to launch in April

Dumbarton's Castle Rock FM is planning to launch in April. Please see our air today section for more information.

Friday, 26th January

Stray FM to launch live audio

Harrogate's 97.2 Stray FM will soon be heard over the internet. The station plans to have a live audio feed of its programmes, which will launch soon.

Thursday, 25th January

virgin radio logo

Virgin: on the point of rock
Boy and girl bands dropped from Virgin's playlist

Virgin Radio said today it would be sweeping aside manufactured boy and girl bands in favour of more classic pop and rock. Henry Owens, programme director at Virgin Radio said:

The amount of chart music being played is incompatible with what a large percentage of adults want from their radio station... the majority of radio stations have responded to the trend for manufactured music, competing for a younger age profile of 15-24 and cluttering the market with stations with little point of differentiation.
The station said the 30-40 age group was not currently being adequately served.
imagine fm logo

Imagine: bidding against a rival for licence

Imagine FM in contest for licence renewal

Stockport and North Cheshire's Imagine FM is likely to face a challenge when it applies for the renewal of its local radio licence. The licence for KFM Radio Ltd., broadcasting as Imagine FM and owned by parent company The Wireless Group, expires in January 2003, but the Radio Authority has already received a declaration of intent to apply for the licence from one other party. Details about the identity of the interested party have not been revealed. The Authority may receive further applications when the licence is officially advertised; this date has yet to be announced.

Central FM sole bidder for local licence for Stirling and Falkirk

Central Scotland-based Central FM Ltd. has been named as the only company intending to apply for the local licence for the areas of Stirling and Falkirk. The station will have its licence renewed for a further eight years.

Wednesday, 24th January

Shares tumble at Capital Radio after concerns about state of ad market

Shares in Capital Radio have fallen sharply by 8% today, after the radio group admitted it was [remaining] 'cautious regarding current trends in the advertising market'. Capital said its turnover was up 12%, following acquisitions of three regional Century stations and Scotland regional station Beat 106 last year, but that like-for-like revenues were up by just 4%. However, the company believes 'the longer term prospects for radio advertising are very positive.'

David Liston, media analyst at stockbroker Gerrard, said he expected radio advertising growth across the sector to be negative in the first quarter of this year. He said Capital's profits would be hit hard as it continued to invest in digital radio.

Capital Radio has invested £4 million in its Capital Interactive online venture, with a £1.7 million spending plan for London-based digital and FM radio station Xfm.

The above story from the ananova site.

Tuesday, 23rd January

Saga bags new West Midlands regional licence

Saga Radio has won the regional FM radio licence for the West Midlands following its proposal to provide a service for the over-50s. Saga Radio Ltd will broadcast a 'mixed format of melodic music and lifestyle-oriented speech designed to cater for the tastes and interests of listeners aged 50 years and over'. Saga's station will cover the cities of Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Walsall and will also be heard across parts of South Staffordshire, North Warwickshire and North Worcestershire. Richard Hooper, chairman of the Radio Authority that awarded the licence, said:

The competition for this new licence was particularly strong and enthusiastic. The clinching factor was the extent to which Saga Radio broadened choice locally. [The over 50s are] a less well served audience in the West Midlands which currently make up over 40% of the adult population in the area.
Saga Radio will begin broadcasting as soon as is practicable. Saga Radio already broadcasts a national service on digital radio called Primetime Radio. The company has a local digital radio station serving Edinburgh that launched last year; this station also broadcasts as Saga Radio.

This is the second award of a regional radio licence for the area; 100.7 Heart FM won the first regional licence in 1996.

MXR bring Fun and Heart to South Wales and the Severn Estuary

MXR Ltd. has won the digital regional radio licence for South Wales and the Severn Estuary, which will cover cities such as Cardiff, Newport, Bristol and Bath. MXR, a company comprised of shareholders that include Chrysalis Group, Capital Radio and the Ford Motor Company, will launch nine services by July this year. The services are:

  • Fun : children's radio : Capital Radio plc

  • Urban Flava : urban music : Soul Media Ltd.

  • Heart : soft adult contemporary : Chrysalis Radio Ltd.

  • Jazz : jazz music : Jazz FM plc

  • The Arrow : adult rock music : Chrysalis Radio Ltd.

  • Smooth : easy listening : Guardian Media Group plc

  • Digital News Network : rolling regional news : DNN Ltd.

  • Galaxy : contemporary dance music : Chrysalis Radio Ltd.

  • Real Radio : music and talk : Guardian Media Group plc

Digital News Network may launch later, in Autumn. The licence is expected to cover 2.45 million people.

Monday, 22nd January

elevenseventy logo

Elevenseventy: time for a name change
Farewell this year to Elevenseventy as station is awarded a place on the FM band

High Wycombe-based top 40 station Elevenseventy is set to make its final broadcast this year as it relaunches as Swan FM, having been re-awarded its licence for the area by the Radio Authority. The station's licence, which continues for another eight years from December 31st this year, will allow Swan FM to use two frequencies to reach across High Wycombe and the surrounding areas of Amersham and Chesham. Radio Wye Ltd, broadcasting as Elevenseventy, was the sole applicant for the award.

Friday, 19th January

koko logo

Koko: so good they named it twice
Wake up and smell the Koko as GWR launches live streams for Trent FM, Ram FM and Chiltern FM

Nottingham's Trent FM, Derby's Ram FM and Herts, Beds and Bucks station Chiltern FM are the latest radio stations to be heard over the internet thanks to GWR Group's internet venture koko.com. The site links to most of the group's local FM radio stations, offering information for listeners as well as providing local news and features. The first stations to benefit from having their own local site include Chiltern FM, FM 103 Horizon, GWR FM, 2Ten FM, Orchard FM, Gemini FM, Lantern FM in addition to Trent FM and RAM FM. Visitors must first select from a map of local areas. Koko is due to be rolled out in all areas in the coming months, with an advertising campaign on buses and on-air at each radio station involved, to promote the new website. You can reach the koko website by clicking here. You can find out more about GWR Group on our station ownership page.

Tuesday, 16th January

Three groups in competition for North-West local digital licence award

Three groups have applied for the regional digital radio licence covering Manchester, Lancashire and Liverpool. The Digital Radio Group Ltd, whose members include The Wireless Group (35%), GWR Group plc (35%), Emap Digital Radio Ltd. (15%), SMG plc (formerly Scottish Media Group) (10%) and The Carphone Warehouse plc (5%), are proposing a number of new stations for the area:

  • Billboard
    • News, talk, information and community programmes (Billboard Radio Ltd.)
  • Q Radio
    • Music magazine and album tracks (Emap Digital Radio Ltd.)
  • The Lounge
    • Easy listening music (The Wireless Group plc)
  • Liquid Radio
    • Current Top 40 chart music (Virgin Radio Ltd.)
  • The Storm
    • Rock and pop rock (GWR Group plc)
  • The Rhythm
    • Classic Soul music (Digital Programme Services Ltd.)
  • Purple Radio
    • Radio for the gay community (Clubmend Ltd.)
  • TAP
    • Young Asian radio (Asian Sound Radio Ltd.)
  • New station
    • Adult contemporary music/talk radio (provider confidential)
  • New station
    • Jazz, blues and soul music (provider confidential)

If DRg wins the licence, it proposes to start broadcasting in October of this year.

MXR radio, backed by Chrysalis Group plc (39.1%), Capital Radio plc (16.7%), Guardian Media Group plc (13.1%), Jazz FM plc (11.2%), UBC Digital Ltd. (7.5%), Soul Media Ltd. (7.4%) and Ford Motor Company Ltd. (5.0%), are planning to launch with nine stations:

  • Fun Radio
    • Radio for children (Capital Radio plc)
  • Urban Flava
    • Urban music (Soul Media Ltd.)
  • Heart
    • Melodic adult contemporary music (Chrysalis Radio Ltd.)
  • The Arrow
    • Adult Rock Music (Chrysalis Radio Ltd.)
  • Smooth
    • Easy listening music (GMG plc)
  • Smooth
    • Easy listening music (GMG plc)
  • Digital News Network
    • Rolling regional news channel (DNN Ltd.)
  • Galaxy 102
    • Dance and rhythmic hit music (Chrysalis Radio Ltd.)
  • Jazz FM 100.4
    • Jazz and New Jazz (Jazz FM plc)
  • 105.4 Century FM
    • Adult contemporary music and talk (Capital Radio plc)

Should MXR win the licence, it proposes to start all of its digital services above by the end of August this year. Digital News Network would begin in the Autumn.

North West Digital Ltd., whose shareholders are Forever Broadcasting Digital Radio Ltd. (30%), Saga Regional Digital Radio Ltd. (30%), SCORE Digital Radio Ltd. (a division of Scottish Radio Holdings plc) (30%) and The Radio Development Company (10%), have also applied for the licence and plan nine services:

  • Saga Radio
    • Music, news and features aimed at an audience over the age of 50 (Saga Regional Digital Radio Ltd.)
  • Juice 107.6
    • Modern Music Mix (Forever Broadcasting plc)
  • Soul Music Radio
    • Soul and Motown (Radio Development Company Ltd.)
  • 3C
    • Continuous country music (SCORE Digital Ltd.)
  • Reprise
    • Current and classic album tracks (SCORE Digital Ltd.)
  • 105.4 Century FM
    • Adult contemporary music and talk (Capital Radio plc - provided subject to agreement)
  • Galaxy 102
    • Dance and rhythmic hit music (Chrysalis Radio Ltd. - provided subject to agreement)
  • Jazz FM 100.4
    • Jazz and New Jazz (Jazz FM plc - provided subject to agreement)
  • NWN
    • Rolling regional news and information (North West Now Ltd.)

NWDR is aiming to begin its digital radio services in October of this year. NWN would follow in October 2001. The three applicants' proposals (other than financial and technical information which has been submitted in confidence) are available for study by the public in Manchester Central Library (commercial library), Liverpool Central Library (business and technology library) and the Harris Library in Preston (reference section), and at the Radio Authority's offices in London.

You can find out more about digital radio in our guide to digital radio and on our frequently asked questions page. Some of the above stations already broadcast on analogue FM radio - see our North-West listings to tune in now, or listen to Galaxy 102, Juice 107.6, Jazz FM and Heart at The Listening Post on our home page. For links to the websites of several of the companies involved in these applications, look under Radio Groups on our links page.

Thursday, 11th January

Cat Deeley

Cat Deeley: has other plans for Sundays
Capital signs Cat Deeley

TV presenter Cat Deeley will join London's 95.8 Capital FM from January 21st to front a 2-hour Sunday show from 2pm. The presenter, who currently presents kids' TV show SMTV Live on Saturday mornings on ITV, will interview star guests and celebrities in a show that will act as prequel to the Pepsi Chart.

Tuesday, 9th January

Millennium and London Greek Radio face competition in bid

South London based radio station Millennium 106.8 FM serving Thamesmead and North London station London Greek Radio face competition from other interested parties for their radio licences. The licences are both due to be advertised by the Radio Authority later this month, but two other companies have already expressed an interest in applying for the licence currently held by Millennium 106.8 FM. It is likely that one such company is Fusion Radio, which recently acquired Oxygen 107.9 in Oxford and FLR 107.3 in Lewisham from radio operator UKRD Ltd, relaunching the local stations as Fusion 107.9 and Fusion 107.3. It has not yet been disclosed which other party has expressed an interest in applying for the North London licence currently held by London Greek Radio. The licences are now open for anyone to apply and will be formally advertised by the Radio Authority toward the end of January.

Monday, 8th January

Westcom snaps up Cat FM to expand portfolio

Westcountry-based Westcom Media has purchased Cheltenham and Tewkesbury's 107.5 Cat FM following the success of Somerset-based 107.7 WFM, which it already owns. The company acquired the station from The Local Radio Company, which owns a number of radio stations in the south of England. 107.5 Cat FM launched in 1998 under a new FM licence that replaced the medium wave service Cheltenham Radio.

We have a full list of radio companies with the stations they operate, updated today.

Saturday, 16th December

First station for children as part of North-East regional licence

Digital radio group MXR has won the regional digital multiplex licence for the North-East of England. The services that MXR propose are:

  • Fun : children's radio : Capital Radio plc

  • Urban Flava : urban music : Soul Media Ltd.

  • Heart : soft adult contemporary : Chrysalis Radio Ltd.

  • Jazz : jazz music : Jazz FM plc

  • The Arrow : adult rock music : Chrysalis Radio Ltd.

  • Smooth : easy listening : Guardian Media Group plc

  • Digital News Network : rolling regional news : DNN Ltd.

  • Galaxy : contemporary dance music : Chrysalis Radio Ltd.

  • Century : music and talk : Capital Radio plc

All of the services will broadcast 24 hours a day, except for the rolling regional news station, which will operate initially during the day only. The digital services are planned to be on the air by June 2001. The rolling news station is expected to launch later in Autumn 2001.

The companies with a stake in MXR are Chrysalis Group plc (39.1%), Capital Radio plc (16.7%), Guardian Media Group (13.1%), Jazz FM plc (11.2%), UBC Digital Ltd. (7.5%), Soul Media Ltd. (7.4%) and Ford Motor Company Ltd. (5.0%).

New station planned for Rugby

A new local analogue radio station is being advertised for the town of Rugby in Warwickshire. The licence for the area will last for eight years

Wednesday, 13th December

White Paper unveils expected shake-up of industry

The Government yesterday published the Communications White Paper. The main significance for the radio industry is the introduction of a new regulatory body called Ofcom that will inherit existing powers from the Radio Authority, Independent Television Commission (ITC) and other regulatory and standards Councils. The new single body will replace a number of different regulators, and will oversee both commercial and BBC radio.

In radio, Ofcom will be responsible for renewing existing analogue licences and issuing new ones in the future. It will also organise the continuing roll-out of the local digital multiplexes and will have to ensure that local stations maintain their character and commitment to local broadcasting. However, it is less clear how a partial lifting of format controls will affect local stations and their output.

The White Paper, however, did not offer anything new on station ownership, only hinting that a 'a simpler, fairer regime' might be devised in the future, meaning that the current points system (where radio companies may only hold a limited percentage or number of licences to broadcast) may be abolished. It suggests that, whatever happens, objectives of plurality and diversity must still be protected. For the consumer, this means that licences will be awarded to stations that offer a variety of different programmes to those already available in the area.

The report also advised that formats for national stations would be dropped, but that there would still have to be one national speech station and one non-pop station. This would bring national commercial stations in line with their BBC rivals, allowing greater flexibility and competition.

The Paper also gave no firm date that would see the switching off of analogue transmitters, but conceded that the up-take of the new digital radio services was 'still very low'.

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