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Agreement over local digital radio multiplex roll-out; coverage boost by September 2016

New local DAB transmitters to improve coverage
Arqiva, the BBC, commercial local DAB multiplex operators and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have published a new agreement which will see local DAB digital coverage boosted from the current 72% of homes to around 90% of homes by September 2016.

In the event that the Government announces a digital radio switchover date, additional local DAB transmitters will be launched within 12 months of the switchover date, further boosting coverage.

The framework for the roll-out of new local DAB transmitters supersedes the Memorandum of Understanding agreed between the parties on 11 July 2012, which paved the way for the continued roll-out of local DAB following several years of stagnation and disputes over funding.

Coverage will be boosted in line with the equivalent FM coverage of each area's largest commercial radio operator.

Starting from March 2015, most local DAB multiplexes will see additional transmitters added to their networks. In some cases frequency changes will be required. Some existing transmitters will be modified, in order to provide better coverage and to mitigate against co-channel interference to other DAB digital radio services in other parts of the country. The expansion will conclude in September 2016.

The expansion of local DAB coverage is separate to the ongoing BBC drive to boost national radio coverage by the end of this year, and other plans to increase capacity and coverage for national commercial radio on DAB.

Part of the cost of the local DAB roll-out will be funded with public money:
  • The Department for Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) has committed to providing funding to multiplex operators, up to a maximum total of £7.75 million exclusive of VAT between now and March 2017 "towards the costs incurred by them pursuant to their agreements with Arqiva to complete the Expansion Plan."
  • The BBC, which will be able to offer its local radio stations on DAB in more areas as a result of the roll-out, will be required to contribute money until 2030,  funding one third of all incremental costs in what the framework describes as "costs reasonably and directly incurred by Multiplex Operators and which are payable by the Multiplex Operators to Arqiva (before the effect of the DCMS funding is taken into account) and which arise directly as a result of the implementation of the Expansion Plan." A cap of £7 million of licence fee payer money is applicable until March 2017.  

Arqiva and MuxCo are also now obliged to commit to rolling the remaining multiplexes that have been licenced, but unlaunched. Suffolk's local DAB multiplex will be licenced by Ofcom this year. There is no mention of local DAB roll-out in Cumbria.

See where local DAB coverage is heading...

DAB digital radio multiplex frequency allocations...


  1. So once again the BBC are being made to pay for someone else's business. This is wrong.

    1. As the BBC had to sell off their own transmitter network, they are always going to have to pay someone else's business if they actually wish to broadcast.


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