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Wednesday, 16th January

Emap eye move into GWR heartland

The radio operator Emap Digital Radio Limited has staked a claim for the local digital licence to cover Swindon and West Wiltshire. The licence is also to cover parts of Bath. The plucky radio company has pitted itself against rival operator NOWdigital to apply for the licence. The two applicants propose individual local services for the towns of Bath and Swindon, with some part-time services also on offer. It is only the second time NOWdigital, the digital offshoot of one of the country's largest radio operators, GWR Group plc, has faced a challenge for a digital licence in which parent company GWR Group already broadcasts.

                              Emap's line-up includes several brand new services. The group would also negotiate a deal with GWR Group and UBC Media to allow GWR FM and Classic Gold to be heard on the multiplex.

  • GWR FM : top 40 pop chart music and recent hits (GWR Group plc)

  • Classic Gold Digital : oldies (UBC Media/GWR Group plc)

  • Kiss : current and classic dance anthems (Emap Performance Ltd.)

  • 3C : continuous cool country music (SCORE Digital Ltd.)

  • Easy Listening : easy listening music

  • Rock : current & classic rock music

  • Adult contemporary : music and talk

Emap also plans to broadcast a new local service for Swindon on the Swindon multiplex only, playing current and classic hits, called Swindon FM. Bath FM would form Bath's local service, already on-air in the city. Included in the line-up are several part-time stations:

  • Travel Now : travel news, weekdays 6am to 7pm (ITIS)

  • Asian Sound : music, news and information for Asians, 7pm - 1am nightly (Asian Sound Ltd.)

  • Sports radio : live football and rugby coverage, etc., Saturday afternoons in Bath and Swindon separately.

NOWdigital proposes these services:

  • Classic Gold Digital : oldies and easy listening (UBC Media/GWR Group plc)

  • Cube : top 40 pop music from the last 2 years (Capital Radio plc.)

  • The Storm : modern pop rock (GWR Group plc.)

  • Passion : Adult contemporary music and discussion of environmental issues (Passion for the Planet Ltd.)

  • Dance/pop dance : current and classic dance music

  • Easy listening : music for the over-45s

NOWdigital plan to offer other services including separate local flavours of GWR FM in Bath and Swindon, and local stations Swindon FM and Bath FM. NOWdigital's deal with SBN will also see the student broadcast network shows appearing on the multiplex between 7pm and 6am every day. Children's radio Abracadabra, from Soundstart Ltd., will be broadcast during daylight hours at weekends.

Both operators would expect their services to be ready for launch in January 2003.

News of the two applications comes before the announcement of the local digital multiplex licence award for Leicester. Emap has also applied for this licence alongside NOWdigital. It is widely anticipated the result of the Leicester licence will have a bearing on the decision for the award for the Swindon licence. The application by Emap is particularly contentious as, if they are successful, the company will have beaten GWR Group in its heartland. GWR Group has its headquarters in Swindon.

Related links:
NOWdigital website
Emap Advertising website

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