menuMENU    UK Free TV logo Radio



Click to see updates

How do the two new national DAB radio bids compare?

We could have another dozen national DAB radio stations transmitting in the next two years. How do the bids from Listen2Digital and Sound Digital stack up?

Listen2Digital or Sound Digital?   Photograph: Shutterstock
Listen2Digital or Sound Digital? Photograph: Shutterstock
published on UK Free TV

It is interesting to see the two new bids from the second national DAB multiplex

Now that the first one is full, and that in London there are the other full multiplexes, it is instructive to see what the market has discovered about the digital radio listener.

Contrary to some expectations – especially of the BBC – listeners are interested in having a wide selections of radio stations, rather than audiophile levels of quality.

With the DAB system now also proving local radio to most of the UK, and DAB listening overtaking analogue, the launch of national 2 would seem timely.

Is worth recalling that Channel 4 previously won the licence and cancelled their service in 2008 due to the sudden recession.

There’s not much between the two bids in terms of transmitters (Listen2Digital 42, Sound Digital 45) but L2D promises much better coverage in terms of homes and roads.

Service Provider Current DAB Freeview Sky
Absolute 80s Bauer Radio SD National 1 no 0200
British Muslim Radio Asian Sound Radio SD NEW SERVICE no no
Chris Country Chris Country Broadcasting L2D ONLINE ONLY no no
DAB+ channel TBC SD no no no
Fun Kids Children's Radio UK L2D London 3 no no
Gaydio Gaydio Digital L2D London 3 +2 no no
GEM Orion Media L2D Derbyshire +2 no no
Heat Radio Bauer Radio SD London 1 +21 716 no
Jazz FM Jazz FM Investments SD London 2 no 0202
Kisstory Bauer Radio SD London 2 +20 714 no
Magic Mellow Bauer Radio SD no no no
Nation Town & Country Broadcasting L2D North West Wales no no
Panjab Radio Panjab Radio L2D no no 0130
Planet Rock Bauer Radio SD National 1 no 0110
Premier Gospel Premier Christian Communications L2D London 3 no no
Premier Radio Premier Christian Communications L2D and Proposed National 1 725 no
RT Radio 1 RT L2D Ireland no 0160
Sabras Sabras Sound L2D Leicestershire no no
Share Radio Share Radio L2D London 3 no no
Sunrise Radio Sunrise Radio (London) SD Bradfrd&Huddersf +3 no no
talkSPORT 2 UTV Media SD NEW SERVICE no no
TBC contemporary hits Confidential L2D NEW SERVICE no no
TBC food USP/Confidential L2D NEW SERVICE no no
TBC jazz Confidential L2D NEW SERVICE no no
TBC modern rock Confidential L2D NEW SERVICE no no
TBC sport radio Confidential L2D NEW SERVICE no no
UCB Inspirational United Christian Broadcasters SD London 2 +2 no 0136
Upload Radio Folder Media L2D NEW SERVICE no no
Virgin Radio UTV Media SD NEW SERVICE no no
Wireless Age UK L2D London 3 no no

Both bids have six stations not on air at this time.

Sound Digital is 40% Arqiva, 30% Bauer, 30% UTV.  

Listen2Digital is 45% Orion Media, 35% Babcock Communications, 20% others. 

Also of note this time: no moving of any BBC services to this multiplex. 

Help with TV/radio stations?
BBC Three Linear channel re-opens1
Will car radios have to be replaced?2
Will UKTV History and FTN eventually be available on fSfS or Freesat? They are 3
Could u please explain why there are no subtitles on most of your films terresti4
Can I pay as you go for British Europsort on my digital tv without subscribing?5
In this section
Which 45 masts transmit the 15 new national DAB radio stations? 1
UK Free TV: 392 AM radio transmissions now have coverage maps2
New! 1000s of new DAB and FM radio coverage maps3
We ARE going to get BBC Local Radio on Freeview ... today!4
More digital radio stations. Ofcom - finally - proposes DAB+5
Where will the 162 new BBC DAB transmitters be?6

Sunday, 15 February 2015
Chris Barker
10:52 AM

Why bother with another so-called 'National' multiplex when there are still large gaps in National 1's coverage?
I can listen to Planet Rock all the way up the M5 and M6 from Taunton to Kendal, but here in Somerset, just outside Yeovil, a town of 40,000 people, I can SEE the local Coker Hill DAB transmitter, but it only transmits BBC stations, most of which I can hear with superior quality on FM.
How will either of these bids affect or improve that situation?

link to this comment
Chris Barker's 4 posts GB flag

4:28 PM

Chris Barker: You can only hear 4 of the 11 BBC national stations on FM. Coker Hill will also transmit the Somerset local mux by September 2016, including BBC Somerset.

Digital 1 will also add more transmitters by the end of 2016, but the sites are not yet known. This is unaffected by the Digital 2 bids.

link to this comment
Mark's 181 posts GB flag
Monday, 16 February 2015
9:43 AM

So, when FM is is restricted to local radio and we are all drowning in "choice", will the Murdoch empire and its friends and clients permit us to hear anything other than pop music, adverts and sport?

link to this comment
Bob's 2 posts GB flag
Bob's: mapB's Freeview map terrainB's terrain plot wavesB's frequency data B's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Saturday, 21 February 2015

10:14 AM

As I have been saying for decades FM national stations will not be turned off for the foreseeable future.

Just look at the complaints the BBC got when they switched off some of their AAC radio streams recently. The BBC changed to HLS streaming which won't work with most internet radios. They forgot to notify many radio manufactures who are now striving to support the streams. They didn't consult radio for the blind and so many blind people have been cut off from radio.

link to this comment
trevorjharrris's 367 posts GB flag
Thursday, 5 March 2015
J Peter Wilson

3:14 PM

Chris Barker: Ofcom are currently evaluating the two bids for the Digital 2 Multiplex Licence (D2) which is a national licence whose national coverage will be around 70 to 80% of the UK population.
It therefore will not have as comprehensive coverage as the BBC's national multiplex (12B) which has an aim of reaching 97% of the UK population or the Digital 1 (D1) national multiplex (11D & 12A) which aims to reach or better the Classic FM analogue coverage at around 90% of the UK population.

As both D1 and D2 are commercial operations, unlike the BBC, they need to provide transmission facilities that their programme providers can afford. In the case of the D2 bids they will be using between 42 to 45 transmitters compared to over 140 used by D1 and the BBC's national DAB network uses over 280 transmitters.

This new D2 service, due on-air in mid-2016, will therefore aim at cities and other major population centres but will not reach some parts of the country on its 11A allocation. However some of the programme services on the winning bid may wish to supplement their D2 coverage by adding their service to some Local DAB Multiplexes in the parts of the UK not covered by D2 if they feel that some non-city areas are financially attractive to their advertisers or from where they receive financial support if they are a mainly listener-supported operation such as some of the faith-based stations.

link to this comment
J Peter Wilson's 30 posts GB flag
Saturday, 7 March 2015

8:21 AM

I Have noticed the new DAB radios are now wearing DAB+ logo. does that mean its future proof and will UK broadcast DAB+.. will it be better? who knows i asked a guy in curry's about DAB+ he was clueless as i am..... typical school kid pretending to know everything and anything... but he was stumped by my question.... i politely walked out of the shop!

link to this comment
Rob's 171 posts GB flag
J Peter Wilson

9:51 AM

Bob: You said, "So, when FM is is restricted to local radio and we are all drowning in "choice", will the Murdoch empire and its friends and clients permit us to hear anything other than pop music, adverts and sport?"

There is the recent matter over the carriage contact renewal of Premier Christian Radio on D1 and the proposed action by the multiplex operator - Arqiva - to decide to not renew Premier's transmission contract on reasonable terms. In this case, without intervention by MPs and the Minster in an Adjournment Debate on 11 February 2015, there could have been the possible replacement of a majority speech radio station by another variant of an existing pop music format which would have reduced listener choice.

Therefore is the current method the best way to organise the licensing of DAB multiplexes to ensure that a wide variety of programme services are provided? This is a matter that some people, including myself, feel that Government needs to re-consider in the light of what may have happened and that safeguards need to be strengthen to allow Ofcom power to intervene in similar circumstances in the future.

Rob: Yes new radios showing DAB+ should be future proofed and I notice that both the bids for D2 have some DAB+ services in their proposed programme line-ups.

link to this comment
J Peter Wilson's 30 posts GB flag
Sunday, 29 March 2015
4:48 PM

It will be interesting to see the investment in this new multiplex. Even after all these years, coverage from the existing D1 National mux is miles behind the BBC's, with only a fraction of their sites.

link to this comment
rb01's 3 posts GB flag
Tuesday, 31 March 2015
J Peter Wilson

6:52 PM

rb01: Both D1 and D2 are commercial operations and unlike the BBC they need to provide transmission facilities that their programme providers can afford.

It is the important point to note that all commercial radio stations have to make a profit and therefore the number of transmitters has to be at a cost that is viable for the radio stations to cover the appropriate percentage of the UK population that fits in with their business plans.

Now with two national DAB transmitter networks - D1 covering 90% of the UK population and D2 planning to cover 75% of the UK population - they now will have a choice. The BBC, as they are supported with a TV Licence Fee, can afford to build out their network to cover 97% of the UK population.

link to this comment
J Peter Wilson's 30 posts GB flag
Select more comments
Page 3

Your comment please
Please post a question, answer or commentUK Free TV is here to help people. If you are rude or disrespectful all of your posts will be deleted and you will be banned.

Privacy policy: UK Free Privacy policy.