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Online radioplayer set for December launch

An online system which will bring together dozens of UK radio stations will begin its launch in December, it was announced today.

The Radioplayer, which has been in development for many months, will gather BBC and commercial stations in one location allowing them all to be streamed.

Radio industry figures were given their first demonstration of the new player at the annual Radio Festival in Salford today.

It will begin a "phased roll-out" from December at which point around 50 stations will be available. By the time of the full consumer launch in February there will be at least 200 stations, including those of all the UK's major radio groups and all Ofcom-regulated stations.

Backers - including the BBC, Global Radio, GMG Radio, RadioCentre and Absolute Radio - believe it will instantly find a huge audience.

Around 4.7 million people already listen to the radio through the internet each month, which amounts to 8% of the radio audience.

Listeners will be able to search by station, programme and genre, and favourites can be stored as pre-sets.

The fees which stations will be charged for a place on the player will be proportional to their size.

Michael Hill, managing director of UK Radioplayer, said: "This is a defining moment for UK radio and we hope all broadcast stations, of all sizes and types, will participate."

Tim Davie, director of BBC audio and music, said: "It is a result of genuine collaboration across the industry and is the sort of innovation we need to make digital radio a reality."

Andrew Harrison, chairman of Radioplayer and chief executive of commercial radio body RadioCentre, said:

"Radioplayer will create significant opportunities for the commercial radio sector, expanding the scope and availability of services and providing an excellent simple online platform, alongside DAB, for audiences and advertisers to discover more digital radio."