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Monday, 26th October 2009
Regulator investigates ways of getting local stations onto DAB

Listeners to DAB digital radio could be hitting the retune button if plans by media regulator Ofcom to extend and merge local digital radio multiplexes are approved.

Following recommendations in the Digital Britain report, Ofcom is looking to make changes to the way stations are carried - by enlarging the coverage areas for regional multiplexes to free up space for a new national commercial multiplex and to make better use of the available spectrum, to avoid having branded radio stations with aspirations to broadcast nationally, on regional multiplexes.

The proposals also set out a route for all local stations to broadcast on DAB digital radio.

Local stations on DAB digital radio could be allowed to broadcast to larger areas by combining and rationalising the number of local multiplexes on which the services are carried.

The proposals would lead to adjustments to digital radio, with stations potentially swapping multiplexes. Happily, though, stations would be easy to relocate using the Autotune function found on every DAB radio.

The new arrangement of local radio multiplexes would be as follows:

  • Cambridgeshire : a new multiplex combining the existing Cambridge and Peterborough multiplex

  • East Anglia : a new multiplex extending the coverage of the existing Norwich multiplex

  • Essex : multiplex coverage to remain identical

  • Home Counties : Herts, Beds and Bucks and Northamptonshire multiplexes to be combined

  • East Midlands : proposed Derbyshire and the two existing multiplexes covering Leicestershire and Northamptonshire are to be combined

  • East Riding and Lincolnshire : proposed Lincolnshire and the existing Humberside mux to be combined

  • London : multiplex arrangement to remain identical

  • North-East England : Teeside and Tyne & Wear multiplexes to be combined

  • Lancashire & Cumbria : Two existing local multiplexes serving the area to be combined into one and extended to cover Morecambe Bay

  • Liverpool : multiplex arrangement to remain identical

  • Manchester : multiplex arrangement to remain identical

  • Northern Ireland : multiplex arrangement to remain identical

  • Edinburgh & the Borders : existing Edinburgh multiplex extended to cover the Scottish Borders

  • Glasgow and South-West Scotland : existing Glasgow and Ayr multiplexes combined and extended to cover the South-West

  • Northern Scotland : existing Aberdeen, Inverness and Perth & Dundee multiplexes combined and extended to cover a high percentage of the population of Northern Scotland

  • Solent : stations on the Bournemouth and South Hants multiplexes would be combined and coverage area extended into west Dorset and parts of Wiltshire

  • Surrey and Sussex : proposed Surrey and north Sussex multiplex would combine with existing Brighton & Hove (West Sussex) multiplex

  • Thames Valley : Oxfordshire's proposed local DAB multiplex would combine with the one for Reading & Basingstoke, currently on air

  • Kent : Kent's multiplex configuration would remain the same, but the coverage would be extended throughout the county, subject to agreement with French authorities

  • South-West of England : A super-multiplex taking in both Exeter & Torbay, Plymouth and Cornwall local multiplexes and extending to north Devon.

  • North Wales : A combined multiplex taking in the upcoming North Wales and North-East Wales and West Chester local digital radio multiplexes with overlap from the Mid and West Wales multiplex.

  • West Wales : Swansea's existing DAB multiplex will be combined with the proposed one for Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire and extended to mid Wales.

  • South Wales : Cardiff's existing radio multiplex could be extended into the valleys.

  • West of England : Bristol and Bath & West Wiltshire's multiplexes would be rationalised and combined with the proposed Somerset local radio multiplex.

  • Wiltshire : The two separate multiplexes for Swindon and west Wiltshire would be combined to serve the whole area.

  • Birmingham and Warwickshire : Local multiplexes serving the two areas (Coventry and Birmingham) would be combined and extended

  • South West Midlands : Two proposed local multiplexes serving the three counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire would be merged into one before launch

  • Stoke-on-Trent : the local multiplex arrangement would remain the same

  • Wolverhampton & Shropshire : the local multiplex arrangement of Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury & Telford would remain the same

  • North Yorkshire : the forthcoming local multiplex arrangement for North Yorkshire would remain the same

  • South Yorkshire : the local multiplex arrangement would remain the same

  • West Yorkshire : the two separate local multiplexes serving Bradford & Huddersfield and Leeds would be merged into one one

Regional stations involved in the proposed shake-up of DAB multiplexes, such as Heart, Galaxy, Real Radio, Smooth Radio, Kiss and Kerrang, The Wave and The Coast could then potentially become national services with UK-wide coverage on a second national digital radio multiplex, the licence for which was originally awarded to 4DigitalGroup. 4DigitalGroup abandoned its plans to launch the commercial multiplex in 2008.

UK local digital radio multiplex areas

Proposed local DAB digital radio multiplex areas

Existing local and regional DAB digital radio multiplex areas

Existing local and regional DAB digital radio multiplex areas


Related links:
find local and regional radio stations, on this website.
national BBC DAB radio stations, on this website.
national commercial radio stations, on this website.
buy DAB digital radios online
guide to DAB digital radio, on this website.
Ofcom's proposed local area definition for revised multiplexes
Ofcom's list of proposed areas for DAB multiplex rearrangement

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