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BBC starts Medium Wave switch-off

A number of BBC local radio stations will cease broadcasting on Medium Wave.

Following a number of trials over the past few years, the BBC has confirmed that from January 2018, Medium Wave transmissions of a number of BBC Local Radio stations will either cease or be reduced.

The plans will result in BBC Radio Sussex, Surrey, Humberside, Wiltshire, Nottingham, Kent, and Lincolnshire no longer being broadcast on Medium Wave and reduced MW coverage for BBC Devon, Lancashire and Essex.

The reduction of Medium Wave services was first considered as part of the BBC's 2011 "Delivering Quality First" programme. Trial switch-offs in subsequent years provided the BBC the chance to find out how many listeners were listening on AM. Most switch-offs took place without much public reaction, although a trial affecting BBC Radio Merseyside's signal provoked a strong reaction from listeners and national newspaper headlines. BBC Radio Merseyside's Medium Wave signal has been left off the current closure list.

BBC Radio Bristol was the first BBC Local Radio station in recent years to leave Medium Wave. However its closure in 2016 was the result of a redevelopment on the site of the transmitter.

The BBC stations that are affected from 2018 have a wide reach on FM, as well as recently enhanced reception via DAB digital radio and Freeview. The number of users accessing radio via DAB, mobile and internet services has also been steadily increasing in recent years, as the share of analogue radio listening, including Medium Wave stations, has dropped to around 50%.

Announcing the decision, Kieran Clifton from BBC Distribution said:
"These changes are still some months away, but we will be talking about them on air, on the stations affected to make sure listeners are ready. We’ll also be making more information available through our usual channels."