A Channel 4-led consortium has the right to broadcast 10 new national digital radio stations.
The 4 Digital Group, given the licence by media regulator Ofcom, wants to provide public service competition to the BBC.
Channel 4’s partners in the group include BSkyB, Emap Radio and the Carphone Warehouse Group.
The 12-year licence begins in July next year.
Stations will include rolling news, celebrity and lifestyle, public service speech radio, and children’s services.
One of the stations, Channel 4 Radio, is expected to be a daily rival to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.
E4 Radio will be a music and entertainment service aimed at 15 to 29-year-olds, while Channel 4’s third branded station, Pure4, will be for ‘music lovers’.
Closer will be aimed at women over the age of 30, and Sunrise Radio UK will broadcast Asian music.
The licence also allows the group to launch a podcast service.
National and local digital radio is expected to grow significantly in the next couple of years.
Nathalie Schwarz, Channel 4’s director of radio, said: ‘The prospect of launching three brand-new national stations and extending Channel 4’s spirit of innovation and risk taking into radio is an inspiring one.
‘We genuinely believe Channel 4 can add a fresh perspective to radio in the UK while extending choice for listeners and working with our partners to promote the medium and drive consumer take-up.’
Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: ‘This licence award is an important development for radio listeners who will benefit from a greater variety of commercial national radio services.
‘The award will give a real boost to the DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) platform, which we believe will form the cornerstone of radio provision in the future.’
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