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Portsmouth radio stations join forces in a bid for a DAB trial licence

Local radio operators in Portsmouth are hoping that their city is chosen as one of ten pilot areas licensed by radio regulator Ofcom to trial small scale DAB digital radio services. If successful in their application, transmissions could start as soon as July. 

The application is a collaboration led by Angel Radio involving local community broadcasters Express FM, JAMM Radio and The Flash that plan to bring more choice to DAB digital radio in Portsmouth under the banner of "Solent Wireless".

The broadcasters involved and their proposed services are:

Angel Xtra a spin off service from Angel Radio broadcasting dance band music from the 1920s to 1950s by day and easy listening music from the 1940s to 1950s by night.
Express FM a simulcast of the popular local community radio service for Portsmouth featuring music, talk and live Portsmouth FC commentary.
JAMM Radio a service from Highbury college playing chart hits with programmes made by students for students.
The Flash a classic rock service featuring blues and music from local bands.
Triple Hits a service aimed at 20 to 44 year olds playing current and classic hits.
A dance music service will also feature: The identity of the dance music service has been disclosed to Ofcom, but is confidential for the time being.

The Ofcom pilot will allow many very small broadcasters the opportunity to be heard on DAB digital radio for the first time, using low cost technology to distribute the signal around the area at a fraction of the price that broadcasters would need to pay to broadcast more widely on DAB. In February, Ofcom invited interested parties to apply to be part of the pilot, which is hoped will pave the way for a permanent transmission.

One of the stations taking part in the Portsmouth application is The Flash, a community radio station based in Havant.  The station founder Martin Kirby said:
“We have been operating as an internet station for almost three years now with the occasional seven day FM broadcast to the local area. To have the chance to take part in this Ofcom trial is by far the most exciting opportunity we have had so far. It will give us the chance to offer our unique service to a wider audience and for a more substantial period of time.”

Tony Smith, Station Manager of Angel Radio, said:
“We will be able to offer extra choice to listeners in Portsmouth through our proposed spin-off service, Angel Xtra. This is a very exciting opportunity available to us and we have worked hard collaborating with our broadcast partners to come up with a proposition that showcases the best in Portsmouth broadcasting.”

David Harber, Commercial Manager of Express FM said:
“Many people are aware that much of the offering from commercial radio stations is homogenised and lacks real variety. We are proud to be working in partnership to not only geographically extend own range of ‘Passionately Portsmouth’ programmes but also to support this opportunity to fully extend listener choice in and around Portsmouth”.

Solent Wireless advises that Celador Radio’s The Breeze was offered the opportunity to join the application but declined.

There have been other applications to participate in the trial from other parts of the UK. Ofcom will soon announce further information about the applications and which areas have been chosen for the trials.


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