Ofcom gives Green Light to more mono DAB and more DAB in Northern Ireland

Ofcom has given the green light for more broadcasters on the national commercial DAB digital radio multiplex to switch to mono and permitted Digital One to extend coverage into Northern Ireland, following a recent consultation.

Absolute 80s and Planet Rock will be changed from stereo to mono transmission to allow TeamRock to launch on the Digital One DAB multiplex next month. The move has been criticised by some listeners who increasingly dismiss DAB digital radio as being a serious replacement for FM in the future if most stations are in mono. Already, most stations broadcast in mono on the Digital One multiplex.

Coverage of Digital One will be extended to Northern Ireland at some point later this year. As reported here on the 14th February 2013, a consultation was held by Ofcom as part of a legal requirement before approving the coverage extension. Full details of the coverage area and transmitters are available by clicking here. All but one of the respondants to the Ofcom consultation was in favour of the coverage extension into Northern Ireland. Just one respondent wasn't happy about the extension plans, feeling that the coverage levels were insufficient.

Meanwhile, Ofcom has formally approved the addition of Juice FM onto the new Wrexham, Chester and Liverpool DAB multiplex from the 15th April.

Once Juice FM and a new transmitter at St John's Beacon in Liverpool is switched on, the Wrexham, Chester and Liverpool multiplex will be fully launched, marking the first successful multiplex launch for DAB multiplex operator MuxCo.



Digital One
Block 11D England, Wales,
Northern Ireland (later in 2013)
Block 12A Scotland
Expected station line up from May 2013
Absolute Radio
Stereo
Absolute 80s
Mono (soon)
Absolute 90s
Mono
BFBS Radio
Mono
Classic FM
Stereo
Jazz FM
Mono  
Kiss
Mono
Planet Rock
Mono (soon)
PremierChristian
Mono
Smooth Radio
Mono
Smooth 70s
Mono
TalkSport
Mono
TeamRock
Mono
UCB
Mono

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6 comments:

  1. I was a very early supporter of DAB radio spending £300 on a Videologic tuner way back in 2001 to hitch up to my Hi-Fi unit. I lived in an area where FM was good on some stations and awful or non-existent on others. I wanted to listen to Jazz fm and for a few years was happy. Then (excuse the pun) monotony set in. Stations reduce their bitrates and new innovative digital only stations disappeared. Multiplexes failed to open when promised after licence award and digital roll out became very slow. I rarely listen to DAB now particularly since I now live in a good FM reception area and have purchased a brand new FM tuner for a measly few quid on ebay. Reception is excellent and those national stations that are not FM in my area (4Extra for instance) I listen to on satellite having linked an old skybox up to my amplifier too. On Satellite most stations are in stereo and in my opinion I have a far better system than any DAB tuner or DAB radio could now produce.
    Whilst most DAB radios on the market are single speaker units and mono reception is probably OK for them but for anyone with a stereo tuner and who wishes to listen in stereo it’s simply a third rate system. I will now add my voice to any petition to prevent digital switch over from FM unless proper due regard is given to the many listeners who wish to see no reduction in their listening habits and who have invested a lot of hard earned cash in expensive systems only to have to listen to a mono 64kbps broadcast (which is only barely twice as good as the dial up internet broadcasts I used to listen to back in the nineties!). After all if I want to listen in mono I can listen to some pretty robust AM stations.

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  2. It is a very sad day that most stations are now mono. Is this the sixties we are living in? Ofcom needs to listen to the public and not greedy organisations that put profit above everything else. I am very sad that DAB has turned into a third rate system that will now fail due to the short sightedness of some faceless bureaucrat. If the plunging bit rate continues AM will be better quality.

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  3. I bought a portable DAB, partly for the quality but mainly for the variety of stations. Now most of them are going to mono which spoils the listening experience. Classic FM is still available in stereo but you can get this on FM ( its in the name! ) but Planet Rock has never been on FM but now may as well be on AM as a big part of listening on headphones is the stereo! Why is modern music less important than classical? I could have spent 5 quid on a cheap radio and got what I am getting now. The government promote DAB as the way forward. Just shows that yet again, you should never trust a politician!
    is there a petition we can sign?

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  4. It had to happen. First pull the punters in with exagerated promises of better sound quality (untrue), lack of interference (also untrue, have you heard the effects of a weak DAB signal?), increased choice (hmmmm maybe), watch people invest in expensive high quality high resoloution equipment then sit back as they find BIT rates gradually being lowered and stereo broadcasts being downgraded to mono. Perhaps people really can't tell the difference? Perhaps 80kbps Mono actually "sounds" better than 112kbps stereo? One thing's for sure, money talks and lack of capacity on the multiplex's has probably forced this downgrade and if the majority of listeners are actually using small portables then maybe there is some justification for this dumbing down. We have already seen what low BIT rates do to TV broadcasts however this does not stop people watching the channels so affected, pixelation and all. I have a theory that most people simply don't care about sound quality and are quite happy to listen to a tinny little radio or MP3 player through horrid little headphones costing a pound or two. This kind of sound quality was acceptable in the 1960's but I don't think it is now. Come on you great British public, you are letting yourselves dwn, demand better before it is too late! Thank goodness for FM, the high quality broadcast medium......

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  5. Looks like DAB is set to fail.

    Teamrock broadcasting in 1920's mono, yet you can stream KWHL, WQQN and thousands of other stations from around the world in beautiful stereo sound.

    Crazy.

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  6. Thank you for your comments. This article is now closed for comments.

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