Folder Media has put its radio station Fun Kids on DAB+ in the North West but warns other broadcasters that whilst the costs might be lower, so will the audience.
The multiplex operator believes that only 3m of the 20m digital radio sets sold are capable of receiving DAB+ transmissions. This test, at 64kbit/s, on the Wrexham, Chester and Liverpool multiplex is seen as a ‘real world’ test of the format till the end of the year.
“One of the questions we’ve been getting from potential new service providers is the viability of launching stations in DAB+. The benefit of DAB+ is that you can squeeze in good audio quality in less space. This means that something that was 128kbit/s in DAB could sound similar broadcast at 48kbit/s or 64kbit/s with DAB+. As capacity on digital radio is charged on how much you use, this would seemingly reduce costs for new operators. However, one of the issues is that most of the legacy digital radios (those old Evokes you’ve got in your kitchen) don’t pick up this new flavour of DAB. So, your costs might be lower, but so is your potential audience,” the company said today.
Folder Media aims to measure listener response to the service – do people pick it up, what radios are they listening on etc. “We’ll look at people who ‘find’ the station, but we’ll also talk to Fun Kids’ listeners in the area through the station’s mailing lists.”
Technical tests will also include observing whether there are implications of running DAB/DAB+ services alongside each other and if there are any reception differences between DAB and DAB+ services, particularly in marginal areas.
The station continues: “The over-arching reason for the test comes back to how we feel about digital radio at Folder Media. We’re still as excited about digital radio as we were when we set up the company. We think it’s great that listeners now get more choice from many different platforms – whether that’s DAB, the internet, mobile or digital television. In the UK our radio listening figures are holding up because of the variety of content from the BBC, commercial radio and community radio and that stations make it available on lots of different platforms.”
Over the next six months there’ll be more stations like these joining our networks as well as three new multiplexes in Somerset, North Yorkshire and North Wales going on-air too.