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DAB local radio gaps

Whilst most of the country does have operating local radio digital services, there is now a dispute about who is expected to provide them for the 2015 radio switchover target.

Whilst most of the country does have operating local radio digi
published on UK Free TV

There are some areas with no operating local DAB multiplex - this means that there are no local commercial radio stations on DAB, and also no BBC services.

The provision of these multiplexes was intended to be provided by commercial operators, but there has been a recent DAB promotion dispute due to some radio stations wanting the BBC to operate the multiplexes.

It should be noted that the commercial operators may wish the BBC to do this, but the BBC would require approval of the BBC Trust and Ofcom, and of course the money would need to come from somewhere.

Here is a list of the areas concerned:


BBC Radio Cumbria

No plans for DAB service exist, currently on 95.6 FM, 96.1 FM and 104.1 FM.

BBC Radio York

Planed to be on the not-yet-operating North Yorkshire (North West) commercial radio multiplex, currently on 103.7 FM and 95.5 FM.

BBC Radio Lincolnshire

Planned to be on the not-yet-operating Lincolnshire commercial radio multiplex, currently on 94.9 FM and 104.7 FM.

BBC Radio Derby

Planned to be carried on the Derbyshire commercial radio multiplex, currently on 104.5 FM, 95.3 FM and 96 FM.

BBC Hereford & Worcester

To be carried on the Hereford and Worcester commercial radio multiplex, when operational. Analogue services on 104 FM and 94.7 FM.

BBC Radio Northampton

Will be carried on the Northamptonshire multiplex when operational, currently on 104.2 FM and 103.6 FM.

Places without BBC local radio on DAB

BBC Three Counties Radio

To be carried on the Herts, Beds+Bucks commercial multiplex when operational, current services on 95.5 FM, 103.8 FM and 104.5 FM.

BBC Radio Suffolk

No plans for DAB service to replace 95.5 FM and 104.6 FM

BBC Radio Surrey

To be carried on two commercial multiplexes, Guildford and Surrey+North Sussex, when operational, currently analogue on 104 FM and 104.6 FM.

BBC Radio Oxford

Planned for carriage on the Oxfordshire commercial multiplex, when operational, on 95.2 FM currently.

BBC Radio Gloucestershire

Planned to be carried on the Gloucestershire commercial multiplex, when operating. Currently broadcast on 104.7 FM and 1413 AM.

BBC Radio Somerset

No plans to supplement 95.5 FM and1566 AM currently.

Channel Islands

BBC Guernsey

No plans to add digital services to 93.2 FM and 1116 AM.

BBC Jersey

No plans to add digital services to 88.8 FM and 1026 MW.


BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru

Operating on Cardiff+Newport and Swansea multiplexes, but both radio stations awaiting three commercial multiplexes to be operating: Mid+West Wales, NE Wales+Chester and North Wales to complete coverage.

Northern Ireland

Radio Foyle

Running six month DAB test service in addition to 93.1 FM and 792 MW.

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Wednesday, 19 December 2012
Mike Dimmick

12:05 PM

michael: The BBC are reserved space for each local radio station covered by each local multiplex. They must wait for the commercial operators to launch their multiplex, and to extend service by adding new transmitters. The law doesn't actually say that the BBC is not allowed to bid, nor does the Royal Charter, but practically speaking, there are already licensees for all of the areas that the ITC and, subsequently, Ofcom have chosen to offer. The problem is that they haven't launched, and those that have launched haven't matched coverage. This is despite the Broadcasting Act 1996 section 49(1):

"In exercising their powers to grant local radio multiplex licences, the Authority shall reserve to the BBC such digital capacity as the Authority consider appropriate in all the circumstances with a view to enabling every BBC local radio service and every BBC radio service for Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland to be received in digital form within a coverage area which, so far as reasonably practicable, corresponds with the coverage area for that service as provided otherwise than in digital form."

The operative words there are probably 'reasonably practicable'. The multiplex operators simply don't want to spend any more money than they are compelled to, as long as there is enough ad revenue coming in (same problem, of course, as the commercial TV multiplexes). The BBC has no power to require extension of coverage and won't want to - possibly isn't allowed to - fund an extension from which the commercial services will benefit.

The government will have to accept that to achieve a radio switchover, they must *require* the multiplexes to extend their coverage. Until they introduce that mandate, and probably offer some funding, it won't happen.

There is no great social benefit to a digital radio switchover - the FM band isn't really crowded enough to stop new community radio stations launching, and there is no other practical purpose for that radio spectrum.

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Mike Dimmick's 2,486 posts GB flag

5:00 PM

... I was under the impression that both the BBC and Goverment have accepted these changes - Ofcom | Annex B. Local DAB build-out plans - to the DAB network.

This includes the closing of the four "regional multiplexes" - Four regional DAB multiplexes to close in 2013 to allow for better local DAB | - 10 years of independent, free digital TV advice .

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag

5:50 PM

The "bottom line" remains current, projected and experienced coverage in fringe areas. When DAB radios equal AM/FM radios in terms of reception,
portability, cost and running costs, DAB will triumph. In the wider context, I received an encouraging, balanced response from BBC Radio Devon:
Thank you for writing to Matt Woodley at BBC Radio Devon about our MW service. I have made a copy of your note which we will keep on file for future discussion about our frequencies. I agree that the 801 [kHz]output is a well-used and important part of our service to those living in Devon's rural communities and while there are no alternatives on FM or DAB, potentially turning off MW is something we need to review carefully. Please be assured that we are taking this matter very seriously and discussions continue.
Mark Grinnell | Editor, BBC Radio Devon

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michael's 869 posts GB flag
Friday, 3 May 2013
MJ Ray

5:30 PM

BBC Norfolk has no DAB in West Norfolk and apparently no current plans for it. 873kHz MW from West Lynn remains the strongest transmitter. 104.4MHz coverage is not great.

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MJ Ray's 44 posts GB flag

5:52 PM

MJ Ray: The plans for Norfolk are here - http://stakeholders.ofcom….pdf

There will be new transmitters at Massingham, Daffy Green, Bexwell and Diss, and upgrades at Kings Lynn, Norwich Central and Wells next the Sea.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Tuesday, 7 May 2013
MJ Ray

11:38 AM

Thanks for that briantist - I've not seen that before. 83% coverage, with dead spots in all the western towns (Kings Lynn, Downham Market, Hunstanton, Swaffham) and all along the western fringe. So West Lynn 873 MW is probably going to remain popular. I guess the fear of lousing up Leicester is why they're planning to use the so-called Kings Lynn (actually Sandringham, behind a hill from the eastern part of the town) instead of the obvious current site at West Lynn.

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MJ Ray's 44 posts GB flag

7:04 PM

MJRay : I fear your observations could be replicated nationwide. Is your MW service shortlisted for the guillotine? Our BBC local radio on MW reaches parts FM does not reach, but both are under chop-threat. DAB only covers those living within view of the mast. They understand not that we plebs further afield cannot read, so are dependent on real wireless... Online is cosy when iPlayer download throttling and BT exchange vicissitudes permit - but not nearly as glitch-free and portable as the ubiquitous AM/FM radio of yore.

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michael's 869 posts GB flag
Monday, 13 May 2013
MJ Ray

12:26 PM

michael : I've not seen any plan to cut the West Lynn transmitter. Online isn't cosy: the "iPlayer radio" just doesn't work on most devices, thanks to the uniquely stupid way they've tried to lock it down - compared to ILR which mostly have free mp3 streams online.

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MJ Ray's 44 posts GB flag

7:44 PM

MJRay : Even when/if DAB reaches "its full potential" and equals FM coverage, it is unlikely to offer better coverage than AM. Where FM or DAB remains below par, even a low-fi AM signal spiced up with some snap-crackle-pop is preferable to nothing. Online is brilliant for world-wide listening, but a last resort for national and local listening - and does not compare with the portability of AM or FM or even DAB. It is well to write to the BBC, MPs, local media and authorities to ensure that AM for all is not guillotined in favour of DAB for the few and the shareholder portfolios...

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michael's 869 posts GB flag
Saturday, 12 October 2013
Stephen Lee
1:38 PM

When will BBC radio Derby start broadcasting on DAB? The FM reception on portable radios on both the local frequencies here in Belper is very poor

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Stephen Lee's 2 posts GB flag
Stephen's: mapS's Freeview map terrainS's terrain plot wavesS's frequency data S's Freeview Detailed Coverage
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