Today, 18th July, we’re publishing our application for the local commercial digital multiplex for the Channel Islands.
The licence, advertised by Ofcom earlier this year, will bring local and commercial digital radio to the Islands for the first time.
Whilst we’ve been working on our application for nearly two years alongside Tindle Radio, the operators of the FM radio stations in Jersey and Guernsey, the growth and interest in the medium means it seems there have been two other applicants for the licence.
It’s definitely an indication in the growth of interest in digital radio and is very different from the attitudes of many, when we started MuxCo in 2007.
When putting together our bid, we’ve drawn on our team’s experience of running multiplexes over the last twenty years and combined that with something that has always helped our launches – having an investor who runs local radio stations in the market, helping them embrace DAB. Involving them in the ownership of the multiplex gives them a stake in growing the number of stations in their local area.
With these applications, it’s the line-up of stations that often draw the most attention. It’s very easy, of course, to fill an application with new potential stations, but we’ve learned that it’s important, particularly for the business plan, to build an application with a strong base of stations with prudent business models or have strong backing from local and national businesses. Having those committed service providers means you have the base to then help find solutions for new entrants.
Our line-up for the Channel Islands has a strong range of local stations. Our shareholder, Tindle Radio, are providing Island FM and Channel 103, but their involvement in the multiplex means they’re able to launch a new local service – Rewind CI. We’re also excited to have local internet radio station operators Bailiwick Radio and Contact Classic Hits involved in transitioning their stations to broadcast digital radio alongside BBC Radio Jersey and BBC Radio Guernsey.
The Islands are also relatively unique in that they do not receive the national commercial multiplexes – Digital One and Sounddigital. We’ve therefore announced national stations Fun Kids, talkSPORT, talkSPORT2, talkRADIO, Virgin Radio UK, UCB1 and UCB2 alongside a station that’s begun to appear on our other local multiplexes – Atlantis. These will join a number of additional stations that we’ve submitted in confidence to Ofcom, as they’re not yet ready to reveal their involvement.
Running multiplexes is MuxCo’s core business. We’re the only applicant with a full time multiplex management team and our systems and processes already support stations on our own MuxCo multiplexes and those we manage on behalf of the Wireless Group and Bauer. This means we’re ready to hit the ground running and bring local and commercial radio to an area that’s been starved of digital radio for a long time.
It’s also exciting to see the interest from many of the stations in broadcasting using DAB+. Across our MuxCo multiplexes nearly a quarter of our stations broadcast using DAB+ and we were the first commercial operator to have full-time DAB+ stations on-air. However, with the Tindle stations launching in regular DAB it will allow us to communicate the benefits of DAB+ (and the new stations available) to listeners with older radios.