Friday, October 10, 2008

Turning off the radio: Channel 4 axes radio plans

Even the most generous of observers had started to doubt that all of Channel 4's wide-ranging radio plans would ever get much off the drawing board, but it's still something of a shock that they've pulled the entire project.

Yes, even the E4 Radio which had, up until now, still been forging ahead to go on air in Spring next year.

The Channel 4 chief executive, Andy Duncan, who was previously a big champion of Channel 4's radio ambitions, said: "We've taken this decision very reluctantly.

"We've pursued our radio plans in good faith and continue to believe DAB has a strong future and that we could make a return from radio in the medium term.

"Frustratingly, our plans have been overtaken by a drastic recent downturn in our revenues and we will have to forgo this future profit stream.

"We can no longer afford the short-term investment necessary given that we are having to cut so deeply across all parts of the organisation."

There might be something political in this - Channel 4 has been sniffing round getting cash from the public purse in one form or another, and it would have been hard to justify why they should get a slice of licence fee cash while pouring millions into a non-core project.

Effectively, though, this is the start of that DAB radio by your bedside becoming obsolete: with only the BBC showing any interest in investing in DAB, unless there's a miraculous change in the economic climate, the future of digital radio is now looking more and more as part of the internet.

Bob Shennan must be slightly less than thrilled, having quit running Five Live to take on the job at the head of Channel 4 Radio last year. Gone, and not a second transmitted.