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Strong demand from industry for small-scale DAB

A call for expressions of interest in running small-scale DAB multiplexes and services has confirmed great demand from operators and broadcasters.

Ofcom has today published details of all the locations where an expression of interest has been received from multiplex operators and potential broadcasters in running a small-scale DAB service following a recent consultation.

The Broadcasting (Radio Multiplex Services) Act 2017 (“2017 Act”) made provision for the licensing and regulation of hyper-local small scale radio multiplex services, which come without the great costs attached to operating and broadcasting on a traditional national or local DAB multiplex and is seen as the key pathway for community radio stations to broadcast digitally.

Stars indicate where there's interest in running small-scale DAB multiplexes and services. Souce: Ofcom

Specifically, the legislation allowed for the introduction of secondary legislation which would apply certain provisions of the Broadcasting Act 1996 and/or Communications Act 2003, with appropriate modifications, to small scale radio multiplexes. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (“DCMS”) is now working on this secondary legislation, and earlier in 2018 carried out a consultation on the core elements of a new licensing approach.

To inform Ofcom's technical planning work, it requested expressions of interests earlier this year, so the regulator is ready for whenever the secondary legislation is in place and can start licensing small-scale DAB services.

Current small-scale DAB multiplexes in locations including Glasgow, Manchester and Portsmouth continue on trial licences in the meantime.

Ofcom has prepared a document containing a full list of locations where there's been interest, although this will not necessarily result in a service actually launching.