Bristol's GWR FM and O2 launch Visual Radio at the International Balloon Fiesta 2006

Today O2 announces the launch of Visual Radio on Bristol’s GWR FM.  It is the first station outside London to offer the exciting and new visually enhanced way of listening to radio via a mobile phone enabled in partnership between O2, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Nokia.    Bristol’s GWR FM listeners will be the first in the UK to have access to premium content associated with the programming such as True Tone downloads and wallpapers.  To celebrate this and Visual Radio going live in Bristol, GWR FM is hosting the Visual Radio Arena a brand new VIP area at the front of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta Free Music Concert stage.  Those not lucky enough to be in this area will be able to try Visual Radio for themselves at other points throughout the festival.   Paul Andrew, Programme Controller at GWR commented: “It is fantastic that Bristol listeners will be some of the first in the UK to experience Visual Radio.  You’ll be able to see what you hear and that means lots of great content on your favourite DJs, competitions and artists, plus loads more besides. Your mobile screen will show you what artist is playing right now, so you’ll always know which song is on the radio”.   Visual Radio on GWR FM will allow listeners to interact in a completely new way directly from their mobiles, from finding out more about new artists and songs to upcoming gigs.  In addition, Bristol listeners will be able to enjoy radio news, sports broadcasts, up to the minute weather forecasts, plus they can quickly and easily contact their favourite shows and presenters, vote and message straight from their mobiles.   About Visual Radio With Visual Radio built into a phone, O2 customers can listen to any FM station, but when tuning in to GWR FM in Bristol, with a Nokia Visual Radio enabled handset, they can choose to receive a new kind of experience. The service, which was developed by Nokia and powered by HP, offers listeners interactive information and graphics that are synchronised with the broadcast. The content is delivered via O2’s mobile network onto the screen of the mobile handset and contains information and images of the artist playing, DJ and programme information. It also gives listeners the opportunity to fully interact with their favourite GWR FM shows by enabling them to participate in quizzes and enter competitions. Users can also click through to other services via the O2 network, including downloading ringtones, wallpapers and song downloads to follow shortly.   As the service grows new features will be added where listeners can read gossip, artist information, dedicate songs and access news, traffic and weather information – all featuring high quality graphics.   The Visual Radio service opens up new business models to broadcasters and content creators, as listeners can be reached in different and interactive ways. Content creators will be able to differentiate themselves from their competitors, create enhanced advertising opportunities and open new revenue streams.   O2 is the first network in the UK to integrate the service and it is available exclusively from O2 for a number of months ahead. Listeners will require a Nokia handset* to enjoy the service, as Nokia is currently the only mobile manufacturer offering handsets with built-in Visual Radio support.   James Parton, Head of Music, & Moving Pictures at O2, commented: “Music is integral to our customers lives. Visual Radio enhances the Radio listening experience for our customers by bringing colour, entertainment, information and interactivity to radio broadcasts. 65% of people use the Radio function of their Nokia mobile phone with 40% of people using the radio at least once a day, so we believe this is a service our customers will enjoy. Importantly customers are in total control of their cost, with the Visual Radio service being easily switched on or off to complement the free to air FM radio broadcast”   Debbie Brackeen, director of strategic initiatives, HP added: “The launch of Visual Radio in the United Kingdom promises new opportunities for the radio industry. Broadcasting leaders like GWR are realizing the benefits of new technologies and business models that enable them to reach listeners in new ways. Now operating live in six markets worldwide, Visual Radio continues to change the way broadcasters and content creators interact with their mobile listeners.”   Tommi Mustonen, Nokia’s Director of Visual Radio, says: “Nokia is currently the largest portable FM radio manufacturer in the world. We are excited to be able to enrich this medium further by enabling listeners to see, as well as hear, programs over their mobile phones.”   Customers can listen to the FM radio on their phone free of charge. When turning the Visual Radio service on, the cost of using the service depends on the amount of data used. The cost of using the service is very affordable. A typical 20 minute session using the enhanced Visual Radio experience would cost around 40p for the GPRS usage. If a user decides to click through and download additional content such as ringtones, then the associated cost will apply.