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Are we going to get BBC local radio on Freeview in England?

If you have Freeview in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you have always had two extra BBC radio stations. Do tests in the West Midlands perhaps mean that we will we soon get local radio in England? I hope so.

Some people will be happy to hear BBC local radio in digital sound for the first time.  Photograph: Shutterstock
Some people will be happy to hear BBC local radio in digital sound for the first time. Photograph: Shutterstock
published on UK Free TV

The BBC standard definition Freeview multiplex operates at a bitrate of 24.1Mbps. That is actually enough to carry over 380 digital radio stations (in monaural 64kbps).

Given that some of this capacity is used for the "national" services for Wales (Radio Wales, Radio Cymru), Scotland (Radio Scotland and Radio nan Gaidheal)) and Northern Ireland (Radio Ulster abnd Radio Foyle) it seems a bit of a shame that Freeview users in England do not get their local radio stations. According to a516digital: BBC local radio spotted testing on Freeview in West Midlands there are tests going on.

I thought it might be useful to think about how this might work in practice.

The BBC can't really sub-region the TV regions to get them down to "county size". This would require doubling (or more) the number of expensive stat-mux points, and making changes to the already-complex Freeview broadcasting arrangements.

So, it seems to me the obvious track is to add the appropriate several stations to each TV region. This could be done with existing equipment and no changes to the broadcast system.

You would end up with something like this:


732 BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
754 BBC Radio Northampton
766 BBC Three Counties Radio (duplicated)


740 BBC Guernsey
743 BBC Radio Jersey


738 BBC Essex
753 BBC Radio Norfolk
762 BBC Radio Suffolk (not on DAB yet)


736 BBC Radio Derby (not on DAB yet)
747 BBC Radio Leicester
755 BBC Radio Nottingham


742 BBC Radio Humberside
748 BBC Lincolnshire (not on DAB yet)


738 BBC Essex (duplicate - Don)
749 BBC London 94.9
763 BBC Surrey
766 BBC Three Counties Radio (duplicated)


735 BBC Radio Cumbria (not on DAB yet)
752 BBC Newcastle
765 BBC Tees


745 BBC Radio Lancashire
750 BBC Radio Manchester
751 BBC Radio Merseyside


730 BBC Radio Berkshire
759 BBC Radio Solent
764 BBC Sussex (duplicated)


756 BBC Oxford


744 BBC Radio Kent
764 BBC Sussex (duplicated)


733 BBC Radio Cornwall
737 BBC Radio Devon


731 BBC Radio Bristol
739 BBC Radio Gloucestershire (duplicate Anthony)
760 BBC Somerset (not on DAB yet)
767 BBC Wiltshire


768 BBC WM
734 BBC Coventry and Warwickshire
739 BBC Radio Gloucestershire
741 BBC Hereford and Worcester
758 BBC Radio Shropshire
761 BBC Radio Stoke


746 BBC Radio Leeds
757 BBC Radio Sheffield
769 BBC Radio York (not on DAB yet)

An additional thought - now Sky won't charge the BBC for EPG listings anymore - and not that Sky had much in the way of radio EPG listings - but it might be possible for the local radio (England) services to make their way onto Sky and Freesat.

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Monday, 3 March 2014

9:25 AM

Sorry Briantist, you are wrong about Gloucester and Cheltenham being editorially part of BBC West Midlands. We are in BBC West, which is why Points West has a reporter based at BBC Radio Gloucestershire, and as I have said above, those of us living in Cheltenham and Gloucester get Points West on channel 101 on cable and satellite. I also was told by the West regional controller a couple of years ago that the only reason that Ridge Hill was not carrying BBC West (like ITV West) was the financial cutbacks.

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andrewp's 38 posts GB flag

10:52 AM

andrewp: I don't think I'm wrong.

Most BBC regional services carry "overlap" programming for areas such as this overlap area.

There NEVER has been anything other than the BBC West Midlands service from Ridge Hill. The BBC have never planned it or suggested it.

The ITV analogue service was instigated on analogue C30 only back in 2006. ITV West extended to North Gloucestershire | News headlines | - 11 years of independent, free digital TV advice

The official BBC policy for the English regions is that they are what they are: transmitter signals don't follow arbitrary political boundaries. The TV regions are caused by transmitter locations.

"With the English regions, there is no such homogeneity. The boundaries were drawn some forty years ago not on any basis of community interest but to match the range of the transmitters. These are regions devised by engineers rather than sociologists. " - From 1968, Broadcasting in the Seventies | Digital radio | - 11 years of independent, free digital TV advice

ITV service is a sop due to the cutbacks that closed down ITV Central South.

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Briantist's 38,906 posts GB flag
6:09 PM

You state that East Midlands PSB1 may include BBC Radio Derby, BBC Radio Nottingham etc and that West Midlands PSB1 may include BBC WM, BBC Coventry etc.

What about all the people in my part of Derbyshire who cannot receive East Midlands PSB1 from any of the relevant transmitters? All we will be able to receive is BBC WM etc. - that is no use to us. Any comments?

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STEPHEN LEE's 2 posts GB flag

6:36 PM

STEPHEN LEE: I gave this a lot of thought before I posted, as I used to live in Derby for a while and I've walked and explored all over Derbyshire.

I'm going to venture that it is unlikely that BBC Radio Derby will not be replicated on the PSB West Midlands multiplex because there is already the need for six stations to be carried.

There is quite a lot of Derby that can get signals directly from Sutton Coldfield: which is a remnant of the days when there was only a single Midlands region.

However, the population of Derby have a "fill in" mast that provides PSB1, PSB2 and PSB3 to give them the correct region, but using Sutton Coldfield for the commercial services.

Also, at DSO some of the transmitters were re-allocated between the Yorkshire and East Midlands region: today all "populated" parts of Derbyshire can get signals for the correct region.

However, there will be some homes who have not moved their aerials, or must use Sutton Coldfield for technical reasons.

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Briantist's 38,906 posts GB flag
Dave Lindsay

6:44 PM

STEPHEN LEE: But judging by the postcode supplied in your earlier posting to this site, you are in a location served by the Belper transmitter which is a relay of Waltham. Examination of Google Streetview reveals that there are aerials pointing to Belper, so unless there is something which prohibits such reception at your property then you do have East Midlands available to you.

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
Tuesday, 4 March 2014
Tom Gould
2:08 PM

Being a Derby County Fan, and having moved to South Leics 4 years ago, anything that would allow me to pick up Radio Derby would be greatly received, at present i have to pay for the silly "Rams Player" to get the commentary, as FM coverage in LE8 for Radio Derby is poor/non-existent.

Im hoping i (might) be able to get the DAB service when its online, as im outside the catchment for the nottingham DAB service, but still pick it up @ 40% and im miles outside the HBB&Northants, but still pick it up @ 60% - Derbyshire is a funny place when it comes to TV, as Buxton as im sure you are aware is fed off Winter Hill, but BBC local radio is Derby - "Hear more about this story, on East Midlands Today, tonight at 6.30" - not unless my aerials pointing towards Sutton Coldfield or Stanton i wont!

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Tom Gould's 1 post GB flag

5:39 PM

Tom Gould:
I think they will block the games out as they do now with BBC Radio Leicester when using the BBC's radio player.
It is to do with rights issues, I assume it will be the same all over the country where the club uses player to sell subscriptions.

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Matt's 22 posts GB flag

6:27 PM

Matt: It's possible they might not if the service area isn't the whole of the UK. It's just impossible online to restrict provision to an audio stream to a single county.

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Briantist's 38,906 posts GB flag

9:50 PM

Briantist - You have quoted a report made in 1968. I have had information from the BBC West regional manager in the last couple of years, which I believe to have more credibility. Clearly we are not going to agree over this issue, so I see little point in continuing the conversation.

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andrewp's 38 posts GB flag

10:08 PM

andrewp: i have a link. Now it's your turn...

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Briantist's 38,906 posts GB flag
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