Virgin Radio may go worldwide with Ericsson

Ginger king eyes worldwide broadcast plans for Virgin.

Media mogul Chris Evans' latest scheme to usurp Rupert Murdoch as media king is to transmit Virgin Radio all over the globe.

Evans' Ginger Media Group and electronics firm Ericsson have begun trials to transmit radio content to third generation mobile phones and wireless devices. This will allow radio programmes to be broadcast worldwide, rather than being constrained by national licenses.

This latest move by Evans broadens Ginger's portfolio to include all possible forms of radio broadcasting. Despite losing the first London digital radio license to Capital this week, Virgin said it will begin national digital broadcasting in the next few months.

Currently Virgin broadcasts to Europe, the Middle East and Japan via satellite and cable. Using third-generation mobile wireless networks, it will be able to broadcast to every corner of the world using a single network. Ericcson is testing the service based on the Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service (UMTS) and preparing for wireless Net devices which are expected around 2002. "We are investing time and interest in both Internet and UMTS radio broadcasting," said Lee Roberts, Virgin deputy sales director. "At present only the US really has the broadband potential for online broadcasting, but it is quite feasible that online or UTMS services could take over the role of traditional radio broadcast methods in the future."

John Asworth, spokesman for BBC digital radio, said that although the BBC had no similar plans, it was interested in distributing content by any means possible. A Capital Radio spokeswoman said there were no plans for her company to follow Virgin's lead.

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