The three shareholders of the MXR regional DAB multiplexes have decided not to renew their licence to operate the services.
This means all the services carried on the five regions they serve will no longer be available on on regional level.
MXR is owned by Global Radio, Real and Smooth Ltd and Arqiva, operates in Yorkshire, the Northeast, Northwest, the Severn Estuary and the West Midlands. Most of the stations are extensions of brands for Global and Real and Smooth Ltd, including Heart, LBC, Choice, XFM and Real Radio XS. However, some stations are committed to being on DAB as part of their licence extension agreement.
The mutliplexes will close between July and September 2013 except Yorkshire which will continue till 2015.
A spokesperson for Global Radio told RadioToday.co.uk: “The industry (commercial and BBC) has agreed that the best way forward for digital roll out and to speed up coverage, the focus should be on local and national multiplexes. Therefore there is reducing demand for carriage on regional multiplexes.”
Global Radio say their investment in the DAB platform continues with local and national services. They have just invested a total of £15m committing to providing their stations on more localised multiplexes owned by Bauer Media, for the next 12 years.
Ashley Tabor, Founder and Executive President of Global told RadioToday.co.uk: “This is an important development for this company and for the future of local digital radio. It is critical,” he added, “that as DAB grows, the investment in the local layer of DAB infrastructure matches the investment being made to the national layer.”
Digital Radio UK say: “The release of the MXR regional DAB spectrum is good news for local digital radio as it supports the planning of the expansion of local DAB coverage, as part of the preparations for a radio switchover. Ofcom is planning to utilise the released spectrum in the planning of the buildout of local DAB coverage.”
Arqiva confirmed their intentions with a statement to RadioToday.co.uk: “Arqiva currently holds a 12% share in MXR. The remaining shareholding is owned by Global Radio and Real and Smooth Limited. MXR has decided not to renew their DAB licence, giving the requisite 12 months notice period to Ofcom. Arqiva does not intend to acquire the shares of Global and Real and Smooth Limited.”
The closing dates are:
South Wales/Severn Estuary: 29 July 2013
Northeast England: 29 July 2013
West Midlands: 27 August 2013
Northwest England: 24 September 2013