First commercial digital radio network goes live

Digital One goes live with Planet Rock, Core, plus more traditional channels

Sporty Spice today launched the UK's first commercial digital radio network.

The Digital One network, a joint venture between private radio group GWR and NTL, went live at 1pm today. The first five stations of the eventual ten to be broadcast on the multiplex started broadcasting today. Besides new stations Planet Rock and teenage chart channel Core, these include Classic FM, Talk Radio and Virgin Radio.

The remaining five stations, including plays, books and comedy channel and a rolling news service, will kick off broadcasting with Capital UK, a new channel provided by Capital FM, in January. The company said that it would be adding transmitters to its network, with the aim of increasing coverage from 69 percent to 85 percent by 2002.

The Culture Secretary Chris Smith welcomed Digital One's expansion of the country's digital radio service at today's Digital Television Group's Conference. Smith praised the efforts made so far to provide consumers with information on digital services, but claimed that there was still work needed from industry and the government to "address the need for clearer consumer information" on what digital services mean for consumers.

Digital radio provides CD quality sound on FM broadcasts, as well as the ability to receive text and pictures along with music broadcasts.