BBC to turn off 13 medium wave transmitters

Ten BBC local radio stations will lose at least one AM transmitter in January 2018 as part of the BBC’s Delivering Quality First plan.

BBC Radio Sussex, Surrey, Humberside, Wiltshire, Nottingham, Kent, and Lincolnshire will no longer be accessible on medium wave, whilst BBC Radio Devon, Radio Lancashire and BBC Essex will reduce their frequencies.

The BBC says it knows the changes will have an impact on some listeners but encourages them to listen on FM, DAB, Freeview or online instead.

Kieran Clifton, Director, BBC Distribution & Business Development said: “We conducted detailed assessments of the coverage of each BBC local radio station on FM, MW and DAB. Following this process, we trialled the switch-off of a number of medium-wave transmitters and asked for audience feedback. Taken together, the audience feedback and the coverage data have informed which medium wave transmitters are unlikely to represent value for money in the longer term.”

The BBC has trialled the switch-off of a number of medium-wave transmitters over the past few years and made the decision to turn off 13 more transmitters following audience feedback.

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  1. Radio Geordie says

    Its about time given that most stations have FM coverage in the same area. In fact, it was supposed to happen way back in the late 1980s/early 1990s when ILR had to give up their AM or FM frequencies or provide a second service. The BBC were also supposed to do this but only a token few transmitters were ever switched off whilst others were used to relay the Asian Network for part of the day in an effort to keep hold of the AM frequencies they didn’t need.

    With last years Freeview rollout, local radio reception has also improved massively meaning that most stations don’t need the AM transmitter(s), although you can’t receive Freeview signals on a car radio.

    Before people like ‘Wiggy’ start with their nonsensical rambling, I’m not advocating that all the AM transmitters should be switched off as in some areas, an AM signal is all some areas can get. A couple of examples being the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire & various parts of Scotland or Wales due to the hilly/mountainous nature of the terrain, then AM is the best option.

    Maybe a better (or even cheaper) option is to use low-powered AM transmitters where FM coverage is weak or non-existent, similar to what some community radio services do.

  2. Dave says

    With BBC l radio on FM DAB & freevew & online there is no need for AM.
    Time to close the lot.

    1. melvyn says

      sorry ,but i can get more local bbc stations on MW than on fm or DAB.
      Online is ok till you can,t listen too football matchers due to copy write reasons .
      Also the fun of dxing will be lost

    2. NeilR says

      Isn’t there? I listen to Radio Kent when I’m driving down through France. I’ve picked the station up on 774 as far as Rouen during the day. Good luck doing that on FM or DAB! And no, I’m not going to pay data rates to stream it via my phone.

  3. Alan says

    All those spare frequencies. Perhaps Caroline could be given links and become a national station. Oh and the noted silence from almost all commercial channels to August 14th and Caroline. For once the BBC come up trumps with Sky and ITV Anglia. Watch tomorrow breakfast TV and even Radio 4 will have an interview with Peter Moore. Shame on the commercial stations

    1. J Peter Wilson says

      Here in Yorkshire our local station – YORKSHIRE COAST RADIO is currently celebrating the role that RADIO 270 played in bringing commercial radio to this country in its ‘oldies hour’. RADIO 270 was the station that stimulated my interest in radio that eventually led me to become one of the founder’s of STRAY FM.

  4. danskull says

    If i had my way,i would force broadcasters to retain the am service ,if north korea or russia does an air burst,then this would be the only service available

  5. Willie Bone says

    AM as a platform of delivery was credited at getting the voice & music out to the masses, but its had its day! Current strong points has it that AM is vital in the sticks, but DAB is more robust than FM in hilly areas & does sound better than crackly auld AM! BBC & RTE should become brave & switch off long wave for good! I am personally not against AM, but the cost of running AM hardware is better diverted into radio programming!

  6. Joe Smith says

    Could the BBC please turn off all transmitters whilst Feltz, Evans, Vine and Wright are broadcasting. That would be a real public service!

    1. Alan says

      Joe, totally agree. Could do everyone a favour. The current radio 2 line up has had its day and an overhaul is long overdue. Get rid of Evans, Vine, Wright, Mayo and Cox plus most of the Saturday And Sunday presenters Give Zoe Ball a week day slot, bring back Richard Allison,
      Let Johnnie Walker have drive time or afternoon show, Tony Blackburn for breakfast, Move Ken Bruce to lunch time and then in the evening throw open the airwaves to Trevor Nelson and allow up and coming presenters present specialist music programmes. Bring back live overnight radio.Alex Lester tops the list. Bob Harris should feature and all celebrity presenters who in reality are an insult to all career presenters are a joke should be fired. Start with Lisa Tarbuck and work your way through with Mr Norton and all others despatched to a new station! Radio 2 extra where all the crud can reside if the BBC is locked into contracts

  7. monitorman232 says

    Finally! Manx Radio gets its clear channel 1368/219m back and puts an end to this east west co channel interference! Firstly the Home Office gave them 1595 on low power then 1295 which had to be shared with the World Service so switch off the transmitter after sunset THEN allocate Radio Lincolnshire their promised exclusive 1368/219m frequency!
    The whisper is that Manx will now refurbish and continue this facility.
    ‘We shall overcome… one day’

  8. Stuart says

    I’ve often wondered firstly why BBC Radio 5 Live and talkSPORT uses different frequencies for Droitwich (693/1053) and Moorside Edge (909/1089) but Absolute Radio has the same frequency (1215) for both Droitwich and Moorside Edge? Because of this and because I live in North-East Wales, although I don’t even listen on AM anyway, if I’ve tried to tune into MW then I’ve always had problems getting a good clear signal of Absolute Radio as Droitwich is a better frequency for me for 5 Live and talkSPORT than Moorside Edge so having 1215 for both transmitter sites causes a lot of interference and unnatural rough sounds listening to 1215. 1197 from Wallasey is a little clearer but also quieter due to the distance and much lower power. It would’ve been better if Absolute Radio used two different frequencies for each transmitter site like 5 Live and talkSPORT do. Maybe if they used one of their other frequencies like they do at other transmitter sites, that might help such as 1233 or 1242 or even 1197 itself if Wallasey switched off as I doubt they really need all those transmitter sites anyway as 9 sites use 1197, 14 use 1215, 4 use 1233, 4 use 1242 and 2 use 1260.

    Also, why does Radio 4 Long Wave also transmit on Medium Wave? Does 198 not reach some parts of the UK and it was cheaper to add additional transmitters with the LW service on MW instead rather than building more LW transmitters? There’s Carlisle (1485), Enniskillin & Plymouth (774), Crystal Palace; Lisnagarvey & Londonderry (720), Newcastle (603), Redmoss (1449) and Redruth (756) that all transmit Radio 4’s 198 service on the MW frequencies you see above in brackets but I’ve never known why.

  9. Rev Adrian Heath says

    Its always a bad move to close down BBC medium and Long wave stations. I must say that once they are gone they will never come back. I must also say that DAB and VHF have far less stations, also people love the Radio 4 198 Long Wave programs and the rearly good BBC medium wave stations. Lots of folk still listen on their old valve and transistor radio’s and do not want DAB and for VHF a special dipole or beam aerial is needed. I would also add if it works well why change it. The BBC has provided great service to the consumer and should continue to provede what the listners requre. Lets be reall amd give those faithful listners their BBC.

  10. dave reeves says

    i like mw,you can almost get a signal down the pit
    dab is crap for signal

  11. Michael Briggs says

    I listen to radio 5 on 909 every day (for years). Yesterday the reception was “iffy” and today it is non existent. Does anyone know why please?

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