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Wednesday, 4th February 2015
New DAB radio stations set to launch on DAB digital radio

New UK-wide jazz, talk and sports radio stations will launch following the receipt of two applications by the radio regulator to run a second, national digital radio multiplex serving Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

March 2015 update: winner of UK's second commercial DAB bundle announced.

In a "beauty contest" to decide the award of the licence to run the transmitter network broadcasting the bundles of stations, Listen2Digital, a joint application from Babcock’s Media Services business and Orion Media, a commercial radio group is up against Sound Digital, a consortium of Arqiva, a transmission company, and commercial radio broadcasters Bauer and UTV Media GB. Both companies are proposing a variety of different stations, some of which are already broadcast in London or on the existing commercial multiplex covering the UK.
Listen2Digital logo

So, what's in it for the listener? GEM, playing female adult contemporary music (already broadcasting in the East Midlands) will be broadcast alongside Fun Kids children's radio, oldies station The Wireless, Wales-based Nation Radio, playing contemporary music, money-and-personal-finance station Share Radio, Christian stations Premier Gospel and Premier Radio, Ireland's talk station RTE Radio 1, LBGT station Gaydio, new country music brand Chris Country, a jazz station, a new foodie station, an unnamed contemporary hits station, asian-flavours Sabras and Panjab Radio, together with a modern rock brand, sports radio and specialist programme and event "pop-up" station Upload Radio.

These proposed stations will fill the DAB multiplex, if Listen2Digital are successful in a licence award. Four stations (RTE Radio 1, Chris Country, Upload Radio and Gaydio) will broadcast on stereo DAB+ on the multiplex; the remainder will be heard in mono.
Sound Digital logo

Sound Digital are proposing a different take on the multiplex, with the reappearance of talkRADIO alongside sister brand talkSPORT 2, a dedicated business and finance station talkBUSINESS, Virgin Radio playing rock and pop music, Kisstory old skool and dance anthems, relaxing music station Magic Mellow, celebrity and pop music station Heat Radio, a transfer for Planet Rock and Absolute 80s onto the new multiplex, together with Asian music station Sunrise Radio. British Muslim Radio is also planned to launch, alongside Christian music stations Premier Christian Radio and UCB Inspirational.

Making its reappearance on national DAB thanks to the extra space will be Jazz FM, plus an extra DAB+ channel for other broadcasters interested in launching on the second UK-wide commercial multiplex, should Sound Digital be successful in winning the licence. The single DAB+ service proposed by Sound Digital is the only stereo service planned, with the remainder of stations heard in mono on the new multiplex.
A list of the radio stations Sound Digital is proposing

Above: Sound Digital is proposing a plethora of new and popular stations for the second UK-wide multiplex

It's likely the licence will be awarded in Summer 2015, but the successful applicant will have to build out its transmitter network following an award. All stations are proposed to broadcast in mono using the current DAB standard, which can be picked up on any DAB radio.

Listen2Digital plan to reach more than 81 percent of the UK's population from launch in the second quarter of 2016, with coverage of 94 percent of the motorway network, 69 percent of primary A roads and 66 percent of other A roads, aiming for good overall coverage across the UK for drivers. A network of 42 transmitters is planned.

Sound Digital will push the button on the new transmitter rollout, aiming to launch within 12 months of a licence award. Their transmission plan is for services to reach more than 73 percent of UK adults (15+), 63 percent of major roads and an estimated 88 percent of vehicles on the UK road network. Sound Digital's plan is to use more than 45 transmitters to provide indoor and outdoor coverage.

To receive DAB digital radio services, you need a type of radio designed to pick up digital broadcasts over the airwaves through its built-in aerial. We've links to good models in our buyer's guide, or scroll down the page for some quick links to both DAB and wi-fi receivers.

DAB digital radio logo

Related links:
England, NI, Scotland & Wales national radio services, on this website.

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