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Arqiva confirms BBC DAB rollout complete in latest financial update

Multiplex operator Arqiva has confirmed its work on expanding the BBC's national DAB coverage has been completed.

In its latest results statement, Arqiva confirmed that on 18th September, the final DAB site of the current programme was brought in to service for the BBC, completing the rollout of 164 new transmitters. The BBC national DAB network now covers more than 97% of the population.

In commercial local DAB (which also carries BBC Local Radio), Arqiva is delivering new transmitters or upgrades at 221 sites and at 30 September had completed 215. The final sites will be ready during the autumn, taking local DAB coverage to over 91%.

The company confirmed that its DAB Multiplexes were continuing to show high utilisation levels. Digital listening across all platforms reached 49% during 2017. DAB continues to grow and is the biggest digital platform, accounting for 71% of all digital listening. Adults owning a DAB set in the home increased from 39% in 2011 to 60% in 2017.

Overall, revenue was up 3.3% at £237.8m. Excluding disposals in the prior year, revenue from continuing operations grew by 6.0%. Company profits were boosted by revenue for the Group’s Terrestrial Broadcast business, which reached £119.1m, representing an 8.8% increase from £109.5m in the prior year period. This increase flows from radio, as a result of the DAB rollout, RPI linked increases on TV broadcast contracts (carriage contracts with broadcasters on Freeview) and from increased activities in relation to the 700MHz clearance programme. As reported last week, the clearance programme begins in earnest in February, when major changes to Freeview frequencies start to take place.

Arqiva is responsible for spectrum planning, network design, programme management, infrastructure changes, service continuity, asset replacement and retuning of broadcast transmitters to enable broadcasters to move into a lower frequency.

Commenting on the results, Simon Beresford-Wylie, Arqiva's Chief Executive said:
“This is another set of record results and highlights the strength of the business and its ability to produce cash. Arqiva is working with the government, the regulator and our commercial partners to ensure that the UK has the right infrastructure for a successful digital communications future.”