Ulster, which recently failed to pick up the ITV news contract as part of the Channel 3 News consortium, has created joint-venture company Absolute Radio UK with Absolute Radio International - the company set up by Dickens this summer - and European radio operator Eurocast.
Ulster already owns a radio station in the Republic of Ireland, Cork 96 FM, but this is its first foray into UK radio. The strategy follows similar moves by other ITV minority shareholders which have diversified into radio. Border TV owned Century Radio before it sold it to Capital Radio last year while Virgin Radio is owned by SMG.
Absolute Radio UK plans to bid for local, regional and digital radio licences in the UK, with its first bid being for the hotly-contested East Midlands licence. The group wants to launch 106.6 Jump FM aimed at the under-30s. Dance brand Cream will help provide content.
Dickens, who will act as programme and operations director for Absolute Radio UK, said that Ulster was 'very strong corporately in a regulated environment which would prove to the Radio Authority there was a balance'.