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New radio station promises 'broad programme choice'

A BROAD choice for 2.3 million listeners was promised yesterday by Central Scotland Radio after it had won the licence to broadcast on FM, beating six competitors.

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The new station is backed by Grampian Television, which holds 55% of the shares, and Border Television with 35%. The remaining 10% will be available for public subscription. The station will be based in Leith and will have a staff of 35.

Sir David Steel, CSR's chairman, said in Edinburgh that the new station, which would operate from September 1 next year, would provide a mixture of news, information, and entertainment tailored to meet the distinctive needs of listeners.

However, one of the unsuccessful competitors, Radio Six, which would have broadcast from Kirk o' Shotts, said the decision had been made without real knowledge or understanding of Scotland and its people.

Mr Tony Currie, Radio Six's managing director, said: ''Given the current controversy over the takeover of ITV companies, we would question the wisdom of the Radio Authority entrusting the new radio station to two of those most vulnerable.

''It is regrettable that no new players or fresh investment are being given the opportunity to expand the Scottish broadcasting clique,'' he added.

Mr Currie said there was a strong possibility of ITV companies taking each other over. If, for example, Grampian was taken over by Scottish Television or by foreign investors, the radio element would be quickly discarded.

Earlier, Sir David had said that at the core of Central Scotland Radio programming would be a unique Scottish view of Britain, the world, and Central Scotland's place in it.

''We will be primarily a talk station with news, travel information, and weather reports. Sport, politics, and the arts will be covered and listeners will be heavily involved through regular phone-ins,'' he said.

Sir David said the station would try to counteract the bias in existing radio in which affairs in the London area predominated.

In its bid Central said that listeners in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and the Central Lowlands would be offered a mainly speech-based programme which would extend what was already available on the BBC.

Mr Donald Waters, Grampian's deputy chairman and chief executive, said it had a long-standing commitment to local radio through its Moray Firth Radio shareholding.

It believed it could benefit the listening public of Central Scotland through its experience as one of Britain's most popular regional television stations.

Mr Robin Salvesen, chairman of another unsuccessful competitor Central Scotland Broadcasting Ltd, said: ''We are disappointed by the decision, not only for ourselves but for the people of Scotland as they are the real losers.

''Our station would have introduced a new concept in Scottish radio broadcasting and a challenge to the existing broadcasters.''

The Radio Authority also announced three other local radio stations to be launched next year. Two will serve Manchester -- Faze FM Radio will broadcast dance music, and Fortune easy listening music. This will give Manchester five independent local radio services.

The third, Channel Travel Radio in Kent, will provide an information service for travellers to the Channel Tunnel on the M20 motorway. All four licences are for a maximum period of eight years.

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