Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: C4's Radio Win Will Fuel Funding Gripe

Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: C4's Radio Win Will Fuel Funding Gripe

Article excerpt

Channel 4's victory in the tense contest for the second digital radio multiplex was a big surprise - right up there with Gordon Brown becoming prime minister and Roger Federer winning Wimbledon for a fifth time.

Ofcom must have had to think long and hard about the rival bid from National Grid Wireless and, understandably, it took the regulator months to make up its mind. As it was put by Tony Moretta, general manager of National Grid Wireless, a transmission firm owned by Australian bank Macquarie that has nothing to do with the National Grid, 'this was an extremely close contest.'

National Grid Wireless' innovative offerings included Radio Luxembourg and Premier Christian Radio. Ofcom must also have been hugely impressed by Radio Play, a concept based on premium-rate phone-in quiz shows After all, the inevitable fines would have boosted its coffers.

Then, in a stroke of near genius, National Grid Wireless decided to offer the three stations being developed by Channel 4. This was a really clever way of cutting costs to the bone, even though there was more than a little doubt as to whether C4 had been consulted on this manoeuvre. Next, there were four stations, all of which bore a remarkable resemblance to those in the 4 Digital bid.

It's a cruel world, and just as no one will remember that Rafael Nadal gave Federer a run for his money, so memories of this 'extremely close contest' will rapidly fade.

Channel 4 winning this digital multiplex is the most exciting thing to happen to commercial radio since ex-ITV chief Charles Allen decided the medium wasn't a waste of time after all and led last month's private-equity takeover of Chrysalis.

It is a wholly good thing that C4 has selflessly decided to go into commercial radio and provide 'contemporary public-service speech' and 'intelligent contemporary adult' formats. When in recent memory, with the exception of Classic FM, has the word 'intelligent' appeared in such proximity to the phrase 'contemporary adult format'? At long last, there will be an alternative to the BBC, even if Jon Snow is unlikely to front the breakfast show.

As part of the consortium offering, we should all welcome the return of Virgin Radio Viva, aimed at 15- to 30-year-old women with attitude. …

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