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June 29, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:26am

News UK launches Times Radio with Boris Johnson’s ‘first sit-down broadcast interview since lockdown’

By Dominic Ponsford

Times Radio launched with what it described as an exclusive Boris Johnson interview.

The prime minister was interviewed by Aasmah Mir and Stig Abell on their breakfast show.

Times Radio described the interview as Johnson’s “first sit-down broadcast interview since the start of the coronavirus lockdown”.

However, the Mail on Sunday yesterday published an interview with Johnson in which he unveiled a multi-billion pound infrastructure programme.

Times Radio programme director Tim Levell said: “We have always had big ambitions for Times Radio and we are delighted the Prime Minister will be with us on launch day.

“Our promise to listeners is that, in a world of noise and confusion, Times Radio will offer intelligent and thought-provoking news, analysis and conversation, hosted by respected and entertaining presenters.”

Times Radio is broadcast nationally via DAB and operates without advertising breaks, instead offering sponsors “commercial opportunities across the schedule”.

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The station offers an alternative to Radio 4 and LBC. High-profile hires include John Pienaar and Mariella Fostrup.

Times Radio is available on Apple and Alexa smart speakers, but not Google, by asking the audio assistants to “play Times Radio”.

The station has said it will eschew adversarial political interviews and there will be no phone-ins.

Times Radio is a partnership between The Times, Sunday Times and News UK’s radio division Wireless which owns a number of stations including Talksport and Talkradio.

Hosts include Times writers Giles Coren, Hugo Rifkind, Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson. Signings from outside the paper include Michael Portillo, Gloria De Piero and Cathy Newman.

This is the second time the owner of The Times has tried to launch a radio station.

In March 2009, The Sun launched Sun Talk which was heralded as “the home of free speech”.

As Sun Radio was internet-based it was not subject to Ofcom regulation on impartiality. Times Radio will be regulated by Ofcom because it is available on DAB.

Sun Talk was closed 18 months after launch.

Full line-up for Times Radio here.

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