Ever since Channel 4 won and returned the licence for a second national commercial DAB multiplex, the industry has been crying out for more space to offer more choice.
Today we came a step closer to having lots more national stations details as two rival bids to run the multiplex were announced.
Sound Digital, owned by Arqiva (D1 owner), Bauer and UTV propose 15 (digital only) stations, six of which will be brand new services. They are talkRADIO, talkSPORT 2, talkBUSINESS, Virgin Radio, Magic Mellow and British Muslim Radio.
Listen2Digital, owned by Orion Media and a number of partners, propose 18 stations, none of which are new but some are extensions of online or local stations, such as Chris Country, Gaydio and Gem. Some of the proposed station providers are still confidential so could throw up some new stations. Listen2Digital also propose carrying RTÉ Radio 1 from Ireland and Nation from Wales.
The only cross-over from both proposals are Premier Christian Radio and potentially some of the confidential services.
If Sound Digital win, three stations (Planet Rock, Absolute 80s, Premier) would be removed from D1, allowing extra services to join the first national multiplex, or giving the remaining stations the opportunity to offer a stereo service.
Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK is happy with the bids: “We welcome both bids for the second national commercial DAB network – it’s great news for radio and for listeners. The additional capacity on DAB will enable greater innovation, more competition and a wider choice of stations for listeners. We look forward to the launch of new stations in early 2016.”
What about DAB+
A small amount of services on D2 can be DAB+. Listen2Digital will offer four stations using the newer technology. They are RTÉ Radio 1, Gaydio, Chris Country and Upload Radio. Sound Digital says it will launch one DAB+ channel, details of which will be announced ahead of launch.
What happens next?
Listen2Digital Limited proposes to commence its service in the second quarter of 2016, using a network of 42 transmitters which it estimates will provide ‘indoor’ coverage of 81.5% of the UK adult (aged 15+) population and ‘outdoor’ coverage of 89% of the UK adult (aged 15+) population. It further states that it will achieve coverage of 94% of the motorway network, 69% of primary ‘A’ roads and 66% of other ‘A’ roads.
Sound Digital Limited proposes to commence its service within 12 months of the licence being awarded, using a network of 45 transmitters which it estimates will provide coverage of 73% of UK households and 63% of major roads. If international agreement is reached, Sound Digital Limited proposes to increase this coverage to 75% of households and 65% of major roads.
Matt Deegan: Bidding for the next national multiplex
Adam Bowie: D2 Bid: Sound Digital
David Lloyd: National Digital Radio – The Future