MKFM is leading a bid for a local DAB multiplex trial to operate six radio stations in the area.
And with new type of multiplex ownership comes new ways of financing them – MKFM is offering free space to stations in return for three minutes per hour of commercial airtime which will be used to support the operating costs and marketing expenses for the duration of the nine-month trial.
Radio stations such as Chris Country and the student radio station Radio LaB will be carried in a ‘localised’ form with local news and programmes over the top of their existing content.
MKFM Programme Director Chris Gregg says it’s an exciting opportunity: “We’re very excited to be able to offer the benefit of our experience of promoting and operating a successful community radio station on DAB to other community broadcasters in our local area. If we’re successful, the community will benefit from a wealth of new choice which can only be a positive outcome for listeners and the industry.”
MKFM was awarded a full time FM community radio licence in March along with another community radio station in Milton Keynes, Secklow Sounds which would also be carried on the trial multiplex along with an open access channel which will carry live events, ethnic programmes and school radio stations.
The proposed Milton Keynes trial multiplex includes the following services:
MKFM – Full service local radio station for Milton Keynes with local news, sport, travel, weather and music from the last 20 years.
Secklow Sounds – A diverse community radio station focusing on local music and arts, diversity, people who are disadvantaged and the voluntary sector and playing music from the last 60 years.
Radio LaB – The existing student radio station for the University of Bedfordshire with localised content for Milton Keynes covering students at University Centre Milton Keynes (part of the University of Bedfordshire) and local colleges.
CRMK – Milton Keynes’ longest running radio station with a 30 year history of providing an eclectic music service with specialist shows covering a wide range of musical genres.
Chris Country – Country music service with localised content for Milton Keynes.
The Space Station – An open access ‘pop up’ channel which will feature live broadcasts from local events, school radio stations, ethnic programmes including Ramadan FM and live concerts.
If successful, the trial multiplex would launch within six weeks of the licence being awarded.
This application is one of many recently submitted to Ofcom for a new nine-month trial to see how viable locally owned and operated DAB multiplexes can be. Only ten will be awarded a licence across the UK, details of which are expected to be announced within the next couple of months.
Read about applications for Manchester and Portsmouth here.