Elizabeth, Gabrielle and I by thejulietfiles@ flickr
I don’t think there was much surprise today at the announcement that Virgin Radio Viva will not be launching on the second national multiplex. Certainly far less surprise than there was when it was announced that Virgin was going to launch a station called “Viva” aimed at 30-something females (someone didn’t realise that the name Viva is jinxed).
The justification is that Virgin will focus on guitar driven rock, which makes sense. It’s what listeners understand Virgin to stand for, and why on earth would you want to build the Virgin brand up even more for Richard Branson?
Virgin Radio Groove will also be disappearing, although its carriage on DAB was pretty limited. At least they’ll get some money from auctioning off the EPG slots on Sky.
Viva not appearing is, broadly speaking, good news. DAB didn’t need another service targeting the eponymous “30-something female”. Clearing that space might allow C4 to do something really interesting that would never have made it through the application stage. It does also highlight the relatively slow-movement of the licensing regime against an increasingly fluid and fast moving radio industry that is beginning to synchronise against Internet time rather than late 1970’s BBC time.
2008 could be a fascinating time for national DAB. C4 could do marvellous things, and DigitalOne (eventually freed from the shackles of BT Movio) could actually compete with new services. I am optomistic that the competition between C4D and D1 will be based not just on new audio services, but on finally making some exciting data services too.