Digital radio undergoes major expansion
Music for your motorhomeIf you were wondering what kind audio entertainment to have fitted in your next motorhome, then take heed of the latest announcement from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport. The local digital transmitter network is set to double and there are bids on the table for new commercial radio stations to increase listening choice.
Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, announced the single biggest expansion of local digital radio coverage, which means that nearly eight million more people will receive their favourite local radio stations on DAB loud and clear.
Speaking at the Drive to Digital: NOW conference held by Digital Radio UK and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) at BBC Broadcasting House, Ed Vaizey confirmed that:
• 182 new digital transmitters will be built by 2016 – this will double the network of local digital transmitters and increase coverage of local DAB from 72 per cent to 91 per cent – in line with commercial radio FM coverage.
• Ofcom has received competing bids from two major broadcast consortia – Sound Digital and Listen2Digital – for the new national commercial network (D2) – this will provide radio listeners with an extra 15 or more digital new stations which could be on air in early 2016.
• Radio listening figures – Rajar – show that digital listening has reached 37.9 per cent of all listening hours, compared with 20.9 per cent in Q4 2009.
Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, said: “Digital radio is the future of radio in the UK and I am delighted that Government has been able to play its part in this major expansion which will help accelerate the transition to digital radio.”
The new transmitters are being jointly funded by the Government, the BBC and the commercial multiplex operators. Work to deliver the infrastructure, which forms part of the Government’s long-term economic plan, will start in March and be completed in the second half of 2016.
Ofcom plans to award the D2 licence by the end of the first half of 2015 and the new stations could be on air early in 2016. The new network will provide listeners with an extra 15-18 digital stations and increases the number of national commercial DAB stations from only four in 2009 to around 30 by 2016, including some on DAB+.
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