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Thursday, October 28, 1999 Published at 07:12 GMT 08:12 UK

Business: The Company File

Capital to go digital

Digital radio is tomorrow's technology

Capital Radio, the UK's biggest local commercial radio group, is set to join the digital revolution.

Capital will join other big names - Virgin, Talk and Classic FM - in a line-up of 10 radio stations joining a new multi-channel digital network, or multiplex.

The multiplex, called Digital One, will put its first five channels on air on 15 November. They will be Classic, Virgin and Talk, together with new stations Planet Rock for classic rock music and Core for teenage chart music.

[ image: Classic will be a Digital One station]
Classic will be a Digital One station
One station a month will launch after that, including Talk Sport, and an arts, books and comedy channel.

Capital Radio's digital service, playing "adult contemporary music" and with the working title Capital UK, will begin in January.

Besides three in London, Capital also has radio stations in the West Midlands, South Wales, Sussex, Hampshire and Kent, where it is known as Capital Gold.

Under the new deal, it will operate for at least 12 years with Digital One.

Digital radio provides clearer reception, and car listeners will no longer have to retune to national stations as they travel around the country.

Digital radio sets can broadcast text and pictures as well as sound, but few people have a set.

Sets sales boost

The BBC already broadcasts its five national radio stations on digital, together with tests of a sport-only channel.

More than two-thirds of the UK is currently covered by digitial radio and this figure is expected to rise to 85% within two years.

Ralph Bernard, chief executive of Capital owner GWR and chairman of Digital One, said: "The agreement with Capital is excellent news for the digital radio industry and Digital One."

He said Capital was one of the most successful radio companies in Europe and its commitment to Digital One for 12 years would give a significant boost to the take-up of new digital sets.

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