DAB changes commence in the West Midlands

Pye Green, Staffs: one of the regional DAB transmitter sites
DAB digital radio listeners in the West Midlands need to retune their DAB radios in order to continue listening to regional radio services including Heart and Smooth Radio.

The changes come ahead of next week's switch-off of the regional DAB multiplex serving the West Midlands.

Until now regional and local stations have been distributed on two separate multiplexes. Under the new arrangement, regional radio stations have started to be broadcast alongside local stations on local DAB multiplexes serving Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton and Shropshire.

With the change of multiplex, there are changes to bitrates used: Smooth Radio West Midlands has changed from 128 kbps on the regional multiplex to 112 kbps on the Birmingham multiplex. Kerrang - replaced on FM earlier this year by Planet Rock - sees its bitrate change from 64 kbps mono on the regional multiplex to 80 kbps mono on the Birmingham multiplex. Free Radio Birmingham has been cut from 128 kbps to 112 kbps and Free Radio 80s is down to 80 kbps.

Some non-regional stations currently being broadcast in the West Midlands, including LBC will cease to be available after next Monday, 26th August. XFM has been removed from DAB in Wolverhampton and Shropshire.

In September, test transmissions are expected to commence for the new Hereford and Worcester DAB multiplex, which - subject to Ofcom approval - will take over the frequency currently used to broadcast regional DAB stations (VHF Block 12A).
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