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Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 14:28 GMT
Digital debut for Asian Network
Adil Ray
Adil Ray is one of the network's leading presenters
The BBC's fourth digital radio station took to the air on Monday, when the Asian Network launched nationwide.

The station has been available in the Midlands and north of England on medium wave since the mid-1990s, but it started broadcasting on digital radio at 0900 GMT when Sonia Deol launched her new mid-morning talk show.

It joins Five Live Sports Extra, 6 Music and 1Xtra in the BBC's digital audio broadcasting (DAB) portfolio, and can also be received through digital television and the internet.

The Asian Network is aimed at second and third generation Asians, and broadcasts a mix of speech and music, with station head Vijay Sharma describing it as "a one-stop shop for daily national news, top international stories, big consumer stories, and music ranging from the latest in British Asian sounds to old favourites".

Sonia Deol
Sonia Deol will relaunch the station
"We will show it as it is, if there is a hot issue to be talked about we certainly won't shy away from it," she added.

BBC radio and music director Jenny Abramsky said: "The Asian Network has already done sterling work at a local level. By going digital we have the opportunity to make it a national network available to the whole Asian community - almost half of whom live in London and the south east."

Sonia Deol, who joins the station from BBC London, wants her show to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.

"We broadcast in English, so why a non-Asian person would obviously be a non-listener is beyond me," she told BBC News Online.

Pure Evoke 1 digital radio
Cheaper digital radios are becoming popular
Other leading presenters include breakfast host Gagan Grewal and late night DJ Adil Ray, who will showcase the best in British Asian and South Asian music.

Bhangra star DJ Ritu has a weekend show, while Bollywood expert Maz Khan will have an entertainment new show.

While most of the output is in English, programmes in Hindi-Urdu, Mirpuri, Gujarati, Bengali and Punjabi will feature at night.

The BBC is hoping the Asian Network will add to the appeal of digital radio.

Take-up has been limited so far - with the cheapest tuners originally costing over 300 - but stocks of a 99 digital set were exhausted when they went on sale on August, and consumers have faced a 10-week wait to get one.

Gagan Grewal
Breakfast host Gagan Grewal
It promises interference-free listening and a wider range of stations, although some listeners have complained sound quality is actually less good than traditional FM broadcasting, as operators cram as many stations as they can onto the airwaves.

The BBC still has one more digital station to launch, speech outfit BBC 7, which promises classic comedy and drama as well as accessible talk shows for all the family.

However, no launch date has yet been set for BBC 7, as producers have spent longer than expected clearing the rights for the older shows they plan to use.

Your reaction to the new station

Whilst I was living in the North, I was an avid listener to the Asian Network as it showcased the finest Asian music talent. Now that I have moved to London I am very happy that the station is now broadcasting UK wide through the improved listening of Digital radio
TY, London, UK

May it go from strength to strength

Jolyon Curran, California, USA
Growing up in Leicester with its vibrant multicultural atmosphere was wonderful. I have frequently listened to the Asian Network over here via the internet. I truly believe that it offers listeners across both the UK and the world a window into rich and fascinating cultures and their UK hybrids. May it go from strength to strength.
Jolyon Curran, California, USA

It would be great if the station could host a show which offers asian/bhangra DJs and remix artists (including rappers/MCs who remix bhangra tracks) across the UK the chance to showcase their talent and get some publicity. This would benefit the Asian music industry greatly, as more fresh and original material would be heard across the country. Asian Network needs to recognise that an outstanding number of Asian youths are involved in this kind of work.
Gibran Aslam, Stevenage, UK

While its good news for Young Asians, I doubt if this new channel will even consider the needs of 75% of the license paying public, the grey market. These people are the ones who are more likely to be in favour of the license fee remaining and yet the BBC seems to have forgotten them altogether. Classical music, intelligent documentary (not fly on the wall), intelligent live debate (not the vacant stuff like Jerry Springer or Trisha), and more British comedy, can't be hard can it?
Mr Patel, Leicester

It's great that Asians are doing so well abroad

Vineet Khare, India
It's great that Asians are doing so well overseas, lets hope the way the Asians unite abroad they do back home as well.
Vineet Khare, India

It's nice to see that Asia are doing their thing on the radio.
Edgar Bernard, UK

Head of BBC Asian Network, Vijay Sharma
"It's by Asians for Asians"

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