Two-horse race for Digital 2 DAB multiplex

UPDATED Ofcom has today confirmed that there are two applicants for the licence to operate a second commercial DAB multiplex covering the UK.

At least 15 new national DAB stations are expected to be carried on the new "Digital 2" multiplex, depending on who wins the licence.

On 1st July 2014, Ofcom invited applications to run a second national, commercial digital radio multiplex. Following the passing of the deadline for applications, which was extended to earlier today, Ofcom has confirmed that they have received two applications to run the multiplex.

Ofcom says it hopes to award the licence by summer 2015 and the first new digital stations are expected to be on air in 2016.

The applications are from:
  • Listen2Digital: A joint application from Babcock’s Media Services business and Orion Media, a commercial radio group - operators of Free Radio in the West Midlands and Gem 106 in the East Midlands. Listen2Digital is proposing to provide 18 national DAB services.
  • Sound Digital: A consortium of Arqiva, a transmission company, and commercial radio broadcasters Bauer (Absolute, Kiss, Magic) and UTV Media GB (TalkSport). Sound Digital is proposing to provide 15 national DAB services.

Further details about the applications are due to be published by Ofcom next week, but the applicants have already revealed some information about the stations they plan to launch:



Sound Digital
Arqiva | Bauer | UTV
Listen2Digital
Orion | Babcock 
in partnership with Folder Media and Sabras Sound
Proposed stations
Proposed stations
TalkRADIO
(64kbps mono)
New speech station
Food channel
(64kbps mono)
New service. Provisional name.
TalkSPORT 2
(64kbps mono)
New extension to TalkSPORT
Fun Kids
(80kbps mono)
For children from Folder Media. London DAB station going national.
TalkBUSINESS
(64kbps mono)
New business news station
The Wireless
(64kbps mono)
From Age UK. Going national.
Virgin Radio
(80kbps mono)
Virgin
Share Radio
(48kbps mono)
Business news. London DAB station going national.
Magic Mellow
(80kbps mono)
New offshoot from Magic
RTÉ Radio 1
(48kbps stereo DAB+)
Irish public service broadcaster’s national station. Currently broadcast on long wave.
KISSTORY
(80kbps mono)
Transferred from some local DAB multiplexes.
Gem
(80kbps mono)
A national version of Orion’s Gem 106 station, broadcast in the East Midlands, that took over from Heart on 1st January 2011. Similar music.
Heat Radio
(80kbps mono)
Transferred from some local DAB multiplexes.
Nation Radio
(80kbps mono)
Contemporary music station.
Jazz FM
(80kbps mono)
A return to national DAB as the “non-mainstream” music station
Modern Rock Station
(80kbps mono)
Details to be confirmed.
UCB Inspirational
(64kbps mono)

Jazz and blues station
(80kbps mono)
Details to be confirmed.
Premier Radio
(64kbps mono)

Transferred from Digital 1.
Sports talk station
(48kbps mono)
Details to be confirmed.
Abs Radio 80
(64kbps mono)
Transferred from Digital 1.
Chris Country
(48kbps stereo DAB+)
Details to be confirmed.
Sunrise Radio
(64kbps mono)
Transferred from some local DAB multiplexes.
Gaydio
(48kbps stereo DAB+)

LGBT station. Going national.
British Muslim Radio
(64kbps mono)
New national service
Sabras 
(64kbps mono)
A national service from the Asian broadcaster that started as an opt-out for Leicester on Gem-AM.
Planet Rock
(80kbps mono)
Transfer from D1.
Panjab Radio
(64kbps mono)
Asian radio service. Going national.
DAB+ channel
(32kbps mono)
Details to be confirmed.
Premier Radio and Premier Gospel (64kbps mono each)
Two services from Premier Christian Radio


Upload Radio
(48kbps strero DAB+)
A station for independent radio producers.
table updated 03/02/2015 with proposed bitrates

Ofcom has confirmed that each application "will be assessed against specified criteria, in what is known as a 'beauty contest'."




Digital 2



Further coverage of plans to launch a second national commercial DAB digital radio multiplex.








Which of the two options do you prefer? Add your comment below.
All you need to comment is a Google Account - you'll have a Google Account if you use an Android tablet or phone (for Google Play), use Gmail, have a YouTube account or you use G+.


Share on Google Plus

10 comments:

  1. The sheer number of stations suggests that this will mean more of the same, low bitrate mono services. Lots of specialised speech based channels, possibly too specialised to attract a large enough audience to be viable in the long term. It will be interesting to see how many stations from the original lineup are still around one or two years after launch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Remember that services in DAB+ will take up less bandwidth. Hope to be able to bring you more of the details for each application soon.

      Delete
    2. I had taken DAB+ into consideration but bear in mind that Digital One currently carries 14 services, most in low bitrate mono. Sound Digital proposes 15 services, only 1 using DAB+. Listen2Digital proposes 18 services with 3 using DAB+. I really don't see that with this many services they are going to improve on the dire audio quality of Digital One.

      Delete
    3. Certainly the Sound Digital option gives stations struggling to afford a mono slot on D1 another chance on D2, and more cheaply given the smaller UK coverage. New Virgin Radio and perhaps Mellow in stereo, Abs80, Heat, kisstory 80kbps mono and the remainder in 64kbps mono?

      Delete
    4. Possibly, assuming that Bauer are interested in adding Mellow in stereo, they seem quite content to have Magic and Kiss in 80kbps mono on D1. Premier is possibly available as a service on both bids as it is likely to lose its slot on D1 when Heart Extra is added. So yes, Premier may be seeking to return to a national DAB platform at less cost. With the number of stations on the Sound Digital option, it would be possible to have 2 stations running at 128kbps JS, 4 running at 80kbps mono and the remainder at 64kpbs with, say, a 32kbps stream left over for DAB+. Or, they could possibly have 1 service at 128kpbs JS, 2 at 112kbps JS, 3 at 80kbps and the rest as above. Either way, that's still leaves a lot of low bitrate mono stations. It's more difficult to predict what could happen with the Listen2Digital bid. Obviously, Upload Radio would make up a 4th DAB+ service with that option. I didn't consider it in my earlier post as it's not really clear whether it will operate as a full time service or as a pop-up service. Similarly, with the vague descriptions currently available for some of the proposed stations, it's unclear as to whether these will all be full-time or whether there will be an element of time sharing.

      Delete
    5. Proposed bitrates added to the table above.

      Delete
    6. Ugh! 48kbps mono, plunging to new depth of dire audio quality. Listen2Digital's bid would fill the mux capacity. Sound Digital would have 128kbps free, so could add an additional service in joint stereo, or more likely 2 additional services in 64kbps mono. Of course, Sound Digital could use their free capacity for DAB+ services.

      Delete
  2. Is this the mux that C4 won a few years back then decided not to bother with?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is indeed. Last time Radio Luxembourg was one of the proposed services for the rival National Grid bid. Perhaps with the number of services being squeezed in by the current bidders, they would have problems matching the audio quality of Radio Luxembourg's legacy 208 MW service.

      Delete
  3. Giving up with DAB as it is, let alone more low quality stations, here in East Kent. Most stations have all but disappeared in the last month and been forced back to FM....

    ReplyDelete

IMPORTANT: This post is open for comments for a limited period (usually 14 days) following its upload date. You can comment with a Google Account (e.g. for G+, Gmail, YouTube, Google Play)
Comment not appearing? Comments may be subject to moderation and as such may not immediately appear on the site - comments will wait in the moderation queue until they are processed. Check back later. (Comments submitted anonymously may fail the spam filters.)

Please note: Some types of comments may be removed at the discretion of a516digital. With freedom of speech comes responsibility: Keep it clean, civil and on-topic! See the "About this website" section (link at the foot of the page) for full terms and conditions about what is and what isn't acceptable on this site.