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385,000 listeners to be added to Manchester Digital Radio coverage area

Digital radio listeners in Manchester were urged to retune their digital radios on Wednesday morning at a special event held at Manchester’s Beetham Tower to ensure they can continue to receive their favourite local radio stations or - for an additional 385,000 listeners - receive them for the first time on DAB digital radio.

Radio presenters from Manchester’s local station line up, including BBC Radio Manchester’s Breakfast presenters Phil Trow and Alison Butterworth, Key 103’s Breakfast presenters Mike Toolan and Chelsea Norris, and Smooth North West’s Jo Lloyd, gathered at the Hilton Hotel, Manchester Deansgate. (Pictured above)

Together they pressed the big green retune switch to symbolically signal the importance for listeners to retune their DAB digital radios to continue to receive to all of Manchester’s eleven local BBC and commercial stations on DAB - BBC Radio Manchester, Capital Manchester, Heart North West, Gold Manchester, Smooth North West, Key 103, Key 2, Key 3, KISS FRESH, Absolute 90s and Asian Sound.

The digital radio retune and expansion will take place at 6:00am on the morning of Wednesday 25 May and is necessary as a result of essential engineering work, boosting and changing the frequency of existing digital radio transmitters in the Manchester area and switching on two new transmitters, which will bring the area’s eleven local BBC and commercial stations to 385,000 more listeners for the first time. Until 10pm Tuesday, Manchester local DAB will be broadcast on VHF Block 11C. Then from 6am Wednesday, services resume on VHF Block 12C.

As a result of the digital boost, all listeners to DAB digital radio in Manchester need to retune their DAB radios after 6:00am tomorrow to be able to continue to receive their favourite local DAB stations. Retuning will enable those listeners in the new expansion areas to receive local radio stations on DAB for the first time.  More information can be found at:

The boosting and expansion of the digital radio signal will expand local DAB coverage to 95% of Manchester area households and bring local DAB digital radio to 385,000 listeners in the Northern and Eastern part of the Manchester area. There will be an increase in power at the major Winter Hill transmitter and the switch-on of two new digital transmitters - one at Littleborough expanding local DAB coverage to listeners in Littleborough and Rochdale, and a second in Saddleworth expanding coverage for listeners in Saddleworth, Oldham and the East of Manchester.

The new digital transmitters have been built by communications infrastructure company Arqiva and are part of an industry and Government programme of work that aims to expand the coverage and listening to DAB digital radio. Government, BBC and commercial radio have agreed plans to build a further 182 local DAB transmitters to extend local DAB coverage to more than 90% of the population which will bring eight million listeners across the UK into coverage and will add over 4,160 miles of roads. 

Digital radio listeners in Manchester can also receive over 40 national DAB stations from the BBC and commercial radio. Additionally, there are 12 further DAB stations serving the city of Manchester – Asian FX, Business Radio, Chris Country, Gaydio , LGR , Magic Abba, Max , Sunset Radio , NQR FM , Penky Wind-Ups , Revolution 96.2 and Unity Radio - as part of a two year trial programme run by media regulator Ofcom.


Kate Squire, Managing Editor, BBC Radio Manchester, said: 
“BBC Radio Manchester has more and more listeners on DAB to our great presenters and programmes with local news, sport and great music, so the improvement to the coverage will be brilliant. We'll be making sure listeners retune smoothly."

Will Harding, Chief Strategy Officer, Global, said:
“Today’s news means more people in and around Manchester can listen to the nation’s two most loved commercial radio brands, Heart and Capital. This is in addition to our other brands, Radio X, Heart extra, Classic FM, Capital XTRA, LBC, and Smooth Extra which are already available right across the country on digital radio. We are continuing our strategy of brand extension and investment in building audiences on DAB so that we can bring our brands to more listeners than ever before.”

Ford Ennals, CEO Digital Radio UK, said: 
“Manchester has a great variety of local digital stations so it’s great news that 385,000 more listeners will now be able to enjoy all their favourite local stations on DAB digital radio for the first time.”

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, said: 
“The digital radio retune in Manchester is great​ news for both listeners and Manchester’s local radio stations. Government is committed to rolling out DAB digital radio, bringing listeners around the UK greater access, better coverage and an even wider variety of content."

Paul Eaton, Director of Digital Radio, Arqiva, said: 
“I am delighted that the local DAB coverage expansion programme is continuing with Manchester being the latest area to receive a digital boost. We’re proud of our role in expanding local DAB coverage as we continue working towards commercial radio FM coverage equivalence by the end of the year.”


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