By Steve Aston
BSkyB is to give digital radio a broadcast platform on its Sky Digital service.
From November 20 BBC radio and commercial services will be available to subscribers in the UK via their set-top boxes.
Sky Digital will provide digital radio with a potential audience made up of its 1.8 million subscribers.
It will carry the services offered by Digital One’s multiplex, which is scheduled to launch Classic FM, Virgin Radio, Talk Radio and GWR’s two new national digital stations Planet Rock and Core on November 15.
In addition it will broadcast Capital Radio’s stations, Capital Gold and Xfm.
GWR has also launched a service, The Mix, which will be unique
to SkyDigital. It will broadcast shows from the GWR network of stations.
It will also broadcast Classic Gold, the AM service which it will roll out on its local multiplexes.
The BBC will provide its five national services, the World Service and stations such as Radio Wales and BBC Asian Network.
SkyDigital already carries the subscription digital audio service Music Choice, which provides 44 channels of music.
BSkyB chief executive Tony Ball said, “The addition of digital radio services to Sky Digital further enhances our offering to viewers.”
The arrangement gives a much needed boost to the launch of digital radio, which has been hampered by the high cost and poor availability of digital sets. Only a few thousand digital radios have been sold in the UK to date.
BSkyB recorded a loss of £14 million before tax for the three months ending September 30, compared with £52 million profit for the prior period. Operating costs for the period rose by £83 million, or 30%, to £364 million.
The poor results are attributed
to BSkyB’s recent set-top box giveaway designed to boost the number of subscribers on digital.