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BBC Radio Set to Expand Digital Options

Four new and expanded digital-only brand extensions launching later this year

The BBC is launching four new digital-only music stations that delve deeper into specific genres and music periods supported by material from the broadcaster’s deep archives.

The new channels are an extension of BBC Radio 1 focused on music of the 2000s and 2010s; an expansion of the current BBC Radio 1 Dance stream; a pop nostalgia BBC Radio 2 extension focused on the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s; and BBC Radio 3 extension focused on calm, relaxing classical music. At the same time, BBC Sounds is ending curation of BBC Radio 1 Relax, which was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our extensions for Radio 1, Radio 2 and Radio 3 will allow listeners to deep-dive into more pop and classical genres and periods of music they love the most, uniquely created by the BBC,” stated BBC Director of Music Lorna Clarke. “They’ll get a deeper listening experience than what’s available elsewhere, hear brilliant storytelling through our extensive archive, and discover more music to love whatever their mood.”

The channels will launch on the BBC Sounds platform later this year while also beginning the regulatory process to bring the stations to DAB+. The regulatory public interest test process is expected to run until year-end 2024.

Also announced was a PIT for BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra, which would allow sports-related content from other BBC channels, including BBC Sounds podcasts and content from its Nations and Regions channels, to be carried on the station.

In its announcement, the BBC noted that the digital program extensions are “a cost-effective way to reach audiences on DAB+ where listening is growing as people move over from FM.” The new DAB+ options will use part of the BBC’s existing DAB allocation.

“Our stations have captured the history of music in the UK during the past six decades for our audiences, and we now want to give them more choice from the BBC as listening habits are changing,” stated Clark. “Our extensions for Radio 1, Radio 2 and Radio 3 will allow listeners to deep-dive into more pop and classical genres and periods of music they love the most, uniquely created by the BBC. They’ll get a deeper listening experience than what’s available elsewhere, hear brilliant storytelling through our extensive archive, and discover more music to love whatever their mood.”

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