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Friday, 25 January, 2002, 15:23 GMT
Gay station leads digital push
Boy George switched on Purple Radio
Boy George switched on Purple Radio
The UK's first digital radio station aimed at the gay and lesbian community has been opened in London.

The launch of Purple Radio - along with a group of other new stations - brings the total number of digital radio services in London to 50, more than any other city in the world.

The Radio Authority has granted new licences to a variety of stations in the capital, including an Asian service and others aimed at students and children.

By the end of 2002 there will be nearly 310 national and local digital radio stations in the UK, according to commercial operator Digital One.

Pop star and DJ Boy George pressed the switch to enable Purple Radio to broadcast on digital.

The station had previously only been broadcasting on the internet, but is now available on digital cable and satellite TV platforms including Telewest Broadband, NTL and Sky.

'Dancefloor'

Digital radio receivers are getting cheaper
Digital radio receivers are getting cheaper
Head of programming Peter Flynn said the station is hoping to be an alternative to existing services.

He said: "It's the only station to broadcast live every night from a London dancefloor."

London mayor Ken Livingstone said Purple Radio would be a valuable asset to the gay and lesbian community.

He said: "We need to have a range of broadcast outlets to ensure the capital's diversity is reflected.

"Lesbians and gay men are one of the many communities that make London such a wonderful place to live."

BBC launch

The launch comes a week after the BBC announced it is starting its first new digital service in February.

Five Live Sports Extra will accompany existing medium wave news and sport station Five Live by giving extra coverage of football, rugby, cricket, tennis and Formula One from 2 February.

The service will be the first of five new BBC digital radio stations launched this year.

DJ John Peel will voice a digital radio campaign
DJ John Peel will voice a digital radio campaign
All the BBC's national stations are already on digital, as well as Radio 4's long wave output and the World Service.

Five Live Sports Extra will only be available to those with new digital radios or through cable or Sky TV services.

Peel campaign

Most digital radios currently on the market sell for about 300 - although the first sub-100 digital radios went on sale at the end of 2001.

The body set up to promote digital radio, the Digital Radio Development Bureau (DRDB) is to launch its biggest awareness campaign yet to promote the stations.

BBC personality John Peel will star in a series of radio adverts highlighting the growing industry.

The veteran broadcaster will be heard explaining the benefits of the digital platform.

See also:

17 Jan 02 | TV and Radio
Launch date for BBC digital radio
07 Jan 02 | TV and Radio
New BBC channels get launch dates
30 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
Digital radio campaign gathers
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