4 Digital Group was a media consortium in the United Kingdom. The group won the licence to operate the second national DAB radio multiplex, as advertised by Ofcom in December 2006. The consortium, led by Channel 4 Radio, is a combination of the existing commercial radio operators and brands new to radio. The group said that they wish boost the up-take of digital radio in the United Kingdom in a similar manner to the growth of digital television since the introduction of Freeview. Their strategy for this is the introduction of ten new national stations, including both speech and music services, and advertising for the format.
In October 2008 Channel Four Television Corporation announced that it was abandoning its plans for digital radio stations. Subsequently, the licence was returned to Ofcom. As such, all details below refer to purely what was "planned", and was taken from promotional material of the time. None of it actually occurred.
The planned stations were:
E4 Radio was aimed to be a contemporary music and entertainment service targeted at 15- to 29-year-olds delivered in the style of E4 Television. The proposed content is popular music, entertainment and comedy. The channel aims to experiment with new talent, ideas and music.
Channel 4 Radio was to be a proposed speech station, including debate, opinion, comedy and drama programming, with a considerable news and current affairs output. The target audience would be 30- to 54-year-olds.
Pure4 was a proposed contemporary music station, which would feature speech content about their artists and bands. Programming will also include arts, film, books and exhibitions.
Talk Radio was to be a speech station proposed by UTV which would mix news and features with talkback programming. Content would be set by the day's news.
The plan for Bauer Radio's proposed station, Closer, was for a music station targeting women aged 30+ with a broad range of contemporary and classic popular hits and topical chat on issues such as health, diet, wellbeing, fashion and relationships, using a mix of both celebrity and listener real-life experiences.
Sky News Radio was a proposed 24-hour news station. The proposal was a joint venture between Sky, which runs a television news channel, and Chrysalis Radio, which owned LBC 97.3 FM and LBC News 1152 AM in London. However LBC's new owners Global Radio pulled out of the deal. It is unknown whether the channel will still go forwards, or what will replace it.
Based on the London station, Sunrise Radio UK was a proposed station feating Asian culture, primarily music, including Bollywood, Bhangra and Asian folk music. Speech content will focus on news and features tailored to the two million British people with Asian backgrounds.
Operated by CanWest MediaWorks, Original was a proposed contemporary and classic popular music station. The station hopes to employ well-known presenters and produce specialist evening music shows.
Radio Disney aimed to be the first national UK radio station broadcasting children's programmes full-time. Aimed at 8 to 12-year-olds, the core of the service will be a variety of suitable and popular music.
As well as innovative new radio stations, 4 Digital Group planned to introduce a national Podcast Service, providing an opportunity for niche services catering for a diversity of passions, interests and communities to reach audiences throughout the UK.
Downloadable radio podcasts range from:
- Gaydar (gay and lesbian community)
- Club Asia (Asian dance music)
- NME (new music)
- IMG (sport)
- Penguin (audio books)
- The Financial Times (business)
- The Prince's Trust (youth new music and issues)
- Media Trust (social action)
- Colourful (multi-cultural speech)
4 Digital Group plans to build and operate a transmission network capable of reaching nearly 88% of the adult population on the move (outdoor), nearly 80.5% in home (robust indoor), and 45% using handheld receivers and DAB coverage for 94% of the motorway network in England, Scotland and Wales.
4 Digital Group plans to commit £4.5 million to general marketing of digital radio in the first three years of the licence period, together with more than £25 million lue to support the launch of the individual new radio stations.
- Channel 4 Radio (55%)
- Bauer Radio (10%)
- UTV Radio (GB) Limited (10%)
- BSkyB (10%)
- The Carphone Warehouse Group plc (10%)
- UBC Media Group plc (5%)