BBC extends trial to switch off AM radio
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BBC extends trial to switch off AM radio

Further trials to end transmissions on medium wave are under way at two more BBC local radio stations in England, aiming to save the corporation money.

Radio Essex and Radio Hereford & Worcester’s AM transmitters are now broadcasting a message explaining why regular programmes are not available.

As Radio Today revealed in August, the BBC is testing the switch-off of medium wave transmission for certain stations. After the initial five-week trial was completed in Nottingham and Kent, so few listeners complained about the loss of service that the trial continued but has now ended.

The BBC said: “The aim of the trial is to get a better understanding of the impact of the loss of MW for our core listeners and also enable us to ensure adequate coverage is available on other platforms in these areas.”

The current trial started yesterday (October 30th) and will end on November 6th 2012.

0 9 1536 31 October, 2012 Industry News Wednesday, October 31st, 2012


  1. Neil

    The BBC are way behind the commercial services which started this process 25yrs ago!! They should shutdown all BBC local radio MF (AM/MW) services as they are all available on FM as a minimum. I’d even go as far as doing this in Scotland and NI too, Wales is a bit of a different beast though as AM and FM services have historically been different and Radio Wales has never enjoyed universal FM coverage, this being given to BBC R Cymru instead.

    1. Radio Geordie

      It was a condition of the Radio Broadcasting Act of 1990 that both Commercial and BBC services either ‘do the splits’ or hand back one of the licences.

      Funny how the BBC were allowed to get away with only handing back a ‘token few’ AM licences for so long when they could’ve launched further FM sites in that time.

  2. Jonny

    As far as BBC Newcastle is concerned, the main function of the MW frequency is to allow split sports commentary: if both Sunderland and Newcastle play on the same day, the away team is on FM, home on MW. Other sports (such as rugby and lower league football) are also exclusively broadcast on MW/DAB.

    As stated, the BBC really needs to ensure DAB coverage is equivalent to the current service (and therefore a viable option for listeners to upgrade to) before considering total switch off and the loss of the ability to split transmission to a majority of the audience.

  3. Phil

    In Watford the best signal for Three Counties is on AM. FM is too bad to listen too. No DAB. The radio app’s are a bit patchy, so probably best to try each station separately.

  4. roysand

    Are the switched-off AM frequencies aviable to new radio stations like community/local radio?? Can I apply???

    1. Ventnor_Neil

      Unfortunately, Ofcom would view the operation in competition with established commercial stations operating on FM. Ofcom, and previously the Radio Authority hold a blinkered view that competition is a bad thing as it would affect the financial standing of the local commercial station. Even community stations have to undertake to source revenue from areas that the existing stations do not use, such as local councils etc.

  5. Nicholas Willmott

    Is there any point in any UK BBC or independent radio stations broadcasting on AM (medium wave and long wave) these days? Does anyone listen to MW or LW these days? If you appreciate decent reception you’ll listen on VHF-FM, MW tends to sound “hossily” after dark – by that I mean you tend to get a squaky / whiny background noise. You don’t get that on VHF-FM for some reason.

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