June 26, 2006

Music download service set for UK digital radio

By Jeffrey Goldfarb

LONDON (Reuters) - Consumers will soon be able to buy songs
as they listen to them on digital radio using a download
service announced on Monday by UBC Media.

The London-based radio programming producer said it will
begin testing the technology on Chrysalis Group's Heart
station. It added that digital-radio enabled mobile phones will
be available later this year.

UBC, which is the largest independent producer of radio
programming for public broadcaster the BBC, said it expects the
digital music download (DMD) service to generate 93 million
pounds ($170.1 million) of turnover within six years, with a
profit of nearly 10 million.

Consumers would pre-pay for songs using a similar credit
plan as is commonly used for mobile phone calls. Each song is
expected to cost about 1.25 pounds, 60 percent more than the 79
pence for tracks bought from Apple Computer's iTunes service.

Songs purchased impulsively from UBC's service also will be
designed for simultaneously downloading to a Web-based music
library that is compatible with other music players.

The DMD trials will start in Birmingham at the end of July,
UBC said.

U.S. subscription satellite radio services from XM and
Sirius enable consumers to record songs they've heard for later
playback, but to buy them requires additional steps and
synchronizing with a computer.

UBC separately announced on Monday that its revenue for the
year ended March 31 grew by 22 percent to 19.4 million pounds,
and swung to a 349,000-pound operating profit from a loss a
year earlier.