Four new transmitter sites for DAB Digital One multiplex

National commercial DAB multiplex operator Digital One has confirmed the launch of four new transmitter sites this year in order to provide more robust reception of its services.

The multiplex carries stations including Absolute Radio, Classic FM, TalkSport, LBC, BFBS and the new Heart Extra service to DAB digital radio users.

In a statement issued this week, the multiplex operator admitted that the new sites are "unlikely to greatly increase the number of people that can receive the network", but that "they will give listeners more reliable reception."

The new sites officially confirmed by Digital One are:
  • High Hunsley (Central Hull and surrounding area)
  • Dunkirk (covering North Kent coastal areas)
  • Brown Carrick Hill (covering Ayr and the immediate area)
  • Glasgow William Street (covering Central Glasgow), also known as "Glasgow Hilton"
The Glasgow site was already confirmed by Ofcom as being one of Digital One's latest transmitter sites in February.

Digital One has said that a fifth transmitter is "planned for later this year" and will provide details once it has gone live, but a516digital understands that Hyde Farm near Maidenhead is the latest Digital One transmitter site.

Local digital radio networks are also profiting from additional transmitters, with new sites often set up to broadcast both local and national DAB services. The aim is to ensure that local DAB digital radio coverage is akin to local commercial radio FM coverage.





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5 comments:

  1. If Digital One are unwilling to expand their service to the many areas in the UK that this so-called "National" service cannot be heard, perhaps the more popular stations on D1 i.e. talkSport and Classic FM should consider broadcasting via local multiplexes - or since OFCOM have used the Classic FM coverage criteria for switch off - they should be obliged to do it, after all the licence fee payer is paying for the Governments extra coverage plans.

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    1. In the UK the TV licence fee only goes to the BBC so from that income their DAB national multiplex aims to reach around 98% of the population as the BBC is a public service broadcaster.

      Digital 1 on the other hand provides commercial radio with around 90-91% coverage and the new SDL National covers 75%. The reason that the two commercial DAB multiplexes have less coverage than the BBC is that they receive their income from the programme licencees who are either commercial stations, such as Classic FM and Magic UK, or listener-supported operations, like Premier and UCB. These radio operations have to be run as businesses and have to be able to afford the transmission costs.

      National commercial broadcasters never have had to cover the whole of the UK. The three original analogue national commercial licences - Classic FM, talkSPORT and Absolute Radio (was Virgin Radio) - were only allocated spectrum that covered part of the country excluding Central & NW Scotland, parts of Northern England and Mid & West Wales as well as parts of Devon & Cornwall for the two AM/MW licences.

      Therefore there should be no obligation on non-BBC radio broadcasters to cover areas that are not commercially viable for them so to do.

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    2. The Governments switch over criteria is that 50% of all listening is via digital and National DAB coverage is comparable to FM and that local DAB reaches 90% of the population. To achieve this Arqiva have developed plans to extend coverage of their commercial multiplex to match Classic FM coverage and the BBC are steadily building out to complete their programme by the end of 2016.
      My BBC licence fee being used to finance local DAB build out which is a totally commercial affair and not therefore limited to the broadcasters finance plans, so to say that transmission plans are a purely commercial business affair is wrong and misleading. Arqiva have not announced any new transmitters in this latest tranche to cover areas currently within Classic FM TSA but with no coverage of D1. I’m pretty sure that a vote wasn’t taken amongst the broadcasters on whether to add another transmitter in Hull or Ayr, that is a long term cost borne by the current and future charges levied by Arqiva for transmission.
      My point was that on D1 there are popular stations like Classic FM and talkSport and these could be moved to a local multiplex in areas where D1 does not currently have a transmitter but where local DAB has good coverage. The Wireless Group have already done this with talkSport2, Virgin Radio and Talk Radio on the Aberdeen multiplex as Sound Digital is not broadcast in that area.

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    3. As I understand it the Classic FM equivalent DAB national coverage is planned to cover more people than the existing FM coverage which in some areas covers more sheep than people.

      If you feel strongly that where you live needs to receive Classic FM on DAB then lobby the broadcaster with your plan for placing the service on local DAB.

      But I still come back to my point that the cost to the broadcaster is what should drive the coverage of the national commercial multiplexes.

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    4. Re: Lobbying the broadcaster - I have. And the area I'm referring to is densely populated with a total population approaching 250,000. The local DAB multiplex is in full swing so the cost to broadcast on DAB in the area is as low as it possibly could be i.e. just carriage cost. The Wireless Group seem to have picked up quickly on the possibility of making use of local multiplexes to increase coverage at the lowest cost, perhaps in the future we'll see more of these deals from some of the bigger stations - there will certainly need to be if switch off is going to become a reality.

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