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Digital Radio News: Community protest at lack of Choice, 2nd DAB multiplex coming soon

DAB Digital Radio news round up:

Community and DJs unhappy at loss of Choice
This weekend has seen protests outside Global Radio's headquarters following the rebrand of Choice FM to Capital Xtra after DJ's who used to broadcast reggae and gospel were dropped following a change in the station's playlist.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday, Steve Philips, one of the sacked DJs said Choice "was born to serve the community". "The community is very upset about this." The DJ argued that the station was issued a licence to serve the Afro-Caribbean/Black community in London, which it was now neglecting.

James Cridland from Media UK said that "specialist programmes don't necessarily deliver a consistent sound, which is why Capital Xtra is removing some of these specialist shows".

With the rebrand to Capital Xtra, the station went nationwide on national DAB digital radio. Global Radio, Capital Xtra's owner, told the Today programme that it had received positive feedback on the station.

Digital 2 multiplex on the way?
The Sunday Telegraph reports that "The Government will announce a major expansion of commercial digital radio this month, in spite of missing targets towards a switchover to the digital format from FM."

Despite no digital radio switchover date being announced for the forseeable future, the expansion will come through the re-advertisment of the Digital 2 DAB multiplex licence, which will see an extra national commercial digital radio multiplex able to launch alongside the existing Digital 1 multiplex, which is now full.

Potential bidders for the new licence, according to the article, are Bauer (Kiss, Magic, Absolute) and Global (Classic FM, Heart, Capital, Gold). Both commercial radio operators have recently added spin-off stations on the existing Digital 1 multiplex, but some listeners have complained of poor audio quality, with some stations operating in mono, with no extra capacity available to improve audio bitrates.

The licence for Digital 2 was originally awarded to consortium including Channel 4. Channel 4 had planned to launch a commercial station to rival Radio 4, before abandoning plans in 2007.

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  1. I would welcome extra national capacity but firstly they should improve audio quality on Digital 1 and should bump perhaps one (or two) stations from Digital 1 to Digital 2 and there is also to decide what about the Global-Bauer led Squatter Pact that hog local DAB and FM Radio which Global in particular got away with culling Local Heritage Brands with its national (e.g. Heart) by stealth policies.

    Digital 2 slots should first go to "bumped" Digital 1 stations then preference would remaining spaces is put up for interest including new entrants though noting pre qualifying Global and Bauer for limited amount of slots could benefit Local DAB Muxs become Global-Bauer free!

    It rather clear that Bauer and Global both have an goal that they want an national outcome for key brands of Kiss, Heart etc that broadcasted 99.9% of the time with local commitments reduced to just ad revenue.

    Space occupied by those such as Heart (the worse offender) with e.g. every Heart and Capital outside London should be freed up or frequencies sold on.

    Global-Bauer for its key brands gets what it wants an National presence along operators but expect they still not be happy as Global have by utilising the Capital and Heart brands and made clear they want the "fruits" with both brands having the National, Local ad variations to max £££ by ads both Heart and Capital precedence and sadly to those witnessed by Choice FM spin offs of said brands aka Capital Xtra. The preceding might be mainly anti Global but Bauer are no angels either they might not as much as Global but they got brands that span areas such as Magic and Kiss, also Bauer "Kiss" brand! has spin offs: Kiss, Kisstory, KissFresh which might with heinsight been an incentive for Global for expanding Capital with Capital Xtra at expense of Choice FM, not be shocked if an Heart Xtra launch out of air sometime in the future sadly if Capital Xtra deemed successful - beware Real Radio/Real Radio XS!.

    With the voluntary removal (or policed measure of exclusion on local DAB by of Bauer-Global) on local DAB the bit rate should be enhanced (by the freed space), used by an smaller radio group such as Jack FM one example in my area, or for some other local FM broadcaster including extended from just Local Commercial Stations (currently mainly an Bauer-Global love fest) allowing others local radio genres such as the likes of such as community radio (e.g Bristol Community Radio) or an Uni Student Radio station if local DAB Mux vacant space remain!

  2. still no word on Derbyshire DAB?

    1. Frustratingly, it's the only local DAB mux announced for this year that hasn't materialised...


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