“With fifty-eight million trips abroad by UK residents last year there is a clear demand for a great English-speaking radio station which feels and sounds like home,” opines Tim Foster, managing director of a new European radio venture.

That’s the rationale for the launch this summer of Holiday FM, a commercial radio targeting UK holidaymakers abroad. A major investor is Capital Radio, one of the UK’s largest radio groups – thought by many (in the wake of the new UK Communications Bill) to be a sitting duck for takeover by US giant Clear Channel.

Successful Holiday FM test transmissions have been completed in such popular Brit holiday honeypots as the Canary Isles, the Balearics and Spain’s mainland Costas; while an unidentified media group has already bought a £220,000 ($357,292; €311,165) package of advertising slots.

The venture is backed by a massive promotion which will see up to half a million free radios distributed to holidaying Britons who prefer their vacation listening to be as much as possible like that in rainswept Albion– but with guaranteed sun and cheaper booze. One package tour company has ordered 400,000 of the radios, while thousands more will be offered as sweepstake and contest prizes by other third parties.

Airtime content will be provided mainly by Capital with some localized material. Delivery of Holiday FM is via local frequencies and satellite. The service will be extended to other European destinations in 2004 – timed to coincide with the Olympics and the European Cup soccer contest.

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff