News UK today confirmed plans to launch a new talk radio station aimed at winning over listeners from the BBC’s ailing Radio 4.
Times Radio, which will be advert-free, will launch later this year on DAB and online, as well as through an app and smart speakers.
The media group said its new venture will draw on journalists from both the Times and the Sunday Times to provide a daily schedule of news, analysis and commentary.
It marks the biggest move into radio for News UK since its acquisition of Wireless — the company behind Talk Sport, Talk Radio and Virgin Radio — in 2016.
Times Radio will also mark a major new rival to the BBC’s Radio 4, which has lost hundreds of thousands of listeners amid tough competition from commercial challengers and podcasts.
The launch will be fronted by Stig Abell, editor of the Times Literary Supplement, while veteran BBC journalist Tim Levell has been named as programme director.
Rupert Murdoch’s empire has also poached BBC journalist Manveen Rana to host Stories of Our Times, a new daily new podcast.
It follows existing podcasts with Times journalists such as Matt Chorley and Giles Coren, as it looks to tap into new audiences and boost subscriber numbers.
While Times Radio was originally slated as a replacement to Talk Radio, News UK today confirmed the two stations will exist in parallel.
“Since Wireless joined the News UK family, we have been working more and more collaboratively with The Times, lending our radio and podcasting expertise to develop an audio strategy for one of the world’s pre-eminent newsbrands,” said Scott Taunton, chief executive of Wireless.
News UK said it will release information about Times Radio’s programming in the coming weeks.