Absolute Radio threatens AM service shutdown

Absolute Radio is wanting to reduce its medium wave coverage across the UK from 90% to 85%.

The Bauer station says that continuing to provide 90% population coverage is no longer ‘reasonably practicable’ and if permission is not granted for the reduction, it would result in Absolute Radio having to close down the entire AM Network.

Absolute Radio proposes two steps – the first to reduce the power at 5 major AM sites by 3dB, and step two, to close 12 small AM sites, and thereafter to operate a 20 site network.

In a document to Ofcom to support its request, Absolute Radio points out the BBC is closing 13 of its 50 local AM transmitters carrying BBC local radio, and that the radio scene has changed dramatically since the national AM music licence was awarded to (Virgin) them 25 years ago. Some of the equipment in use at transmitter sites is also 25 years old and to maintain the network could be commercially unviable.

Ofcom is consulting on the proposal and the closing date is 2nd March 2018.

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Posted on Friday, February 9th, 2018 at 11:54 am by UK - Reporter

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19 Comments
  1. David says

    No one I know now listens to Absolute Radio on AM now. They all use higher quality VHF FM, online, Freeview ,DAB and mobile apps. Absolute Radio seems very popular, but not on the noisy low fidelity AM platform. I think AM continuation for Absolute is money down the drain -even economic suicide, for just a very few remaining AM listeners. RTE (Ireland) has decided to close AM to save money for investment into modern platforms, and Absolute Radio would be wise do the same. David

    1. melvyn dalley says

      Well i do ,most of the time ! do sometime listen on sky but not much good in the garden. My grundig sounds much better on am the on Many DAB radios , A friend who has a shop is still selling more analogue radio than Digital.
      Regards melvyn

  2. Dave says

    Ofcom will rubber stamp it.

  3. Paul says

    Fine. Switch off AM, but replace that with national coverage on FM please. Love listening to Absolute and the other offshoot stations. Listen at home and work online to classic rock but here in Northamptonshire it is AM on the drive to work and back in my 13 year old Focus.

    1. Owen says

      Yes, DAB has its flaws especially at lower bit rates, but you can’t honestly say an AM broadcast sounds better?

  4. BinkyDawkins says

    Those who don’t listen on AM won’t know this but over the past year or so, Absolute have been playing these annoying ads where a woman with a really hate-filled voice basically says “We know you’re a sad git still stuck in the 20th century, listening on medium wave” What are you playing at, you to**er?” “Hurry up and switch over to DAB and get a life, you ar**ho**!”

    Of course these aren’t the exact words they use but it’s the general gist of what they mean and I’m sure it’s what they would say if they could!

    Given that the only show on Absolute I go out of my way to listen to is The Frank Skinner Show and that I listen to it via the podcast, it wouldn’t bother me much if they shut down the AM signal.

  5. Willie Bone says

    247 metres/1214 kHz was always prone to co-channel interference from mainland Europe & home interference mush areas, caused by competing signals in areas between transmitters on an analogue based single frequency network!
    However, I am “Absolutely Gobsmacked” that 1215 kHz has been in use for commercial radio for 25 years! WOW! That is a fair tribute to the AM platform in its autumn years.
    The proposed reduction of AM coverage for Absolute Radio is no doubt a prelude to further reduction in the near future, with total closure of its AM output in the not-too-distant-future!

  6. David says

    The total MW AM shut down will happen, and I think it will not be too long. I doubt if anyone would actually notice or be the slightest bothered. With that in mind, to keep MW AM running is just a pure waste of cash. I’m certain all the broadcasters would all want to rush and close AM now, but they have to be very careful not to infringe their agreed previous licence clauses, as that would go against them when applying for new DAB and other digital platform licences etc., David

  7. David says

    Neither Virgin or Absolute Radio arranged for AM transmission via the Burghead transmitter in Moray, so no loss.

    Talk Sport have still not arranged transmission from Burghead.

  8. David says

    As all the main broadcasters would love to instantly abandon ‘obsolete’ and costly MW’s if only the regulators would only allow that. No one I know listens on MW’s now. I’m sure the broadcasters also deliberately make the MW transmitters sound ‘rough’ to encourage listeners to go to their other platforms. It’s about time ‘hobby music radio’ was encouraged in the UK, as now in many other countries. This would take away the need to do ‘pirate’ free radio. As the ‘hobby’ stations locations would be known (as with Amateur Radio), any (rare) interference issues could be promptly dealt with, instead of wasting weeks to find the offending pirate transmitter. That would be in everyone’s best interest, David

  9. peter stanley says

    You can’t get Absolute radio on FM where I live in the North West, my car was only made in 2012 but it doesn’t have a DAB radio. If I want to listen when out in it I have no choice it’s 1215 am. Yes you can buy DAB adapters but which one is best, there are lots out there and do they work? I read you have to have a new aerial.

  10. James Martin says

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to starting phasing out AM. I’m surprised they’re keeping the West Midlands AM TX on in those proposals, surely that and the TX serving London might as well be closed?

    The truth is, the audience on AM is declining and its a very expensive medium to transmit on, probably not as much as DAB but it’s certainly more expensive than FM.

  11. Chris says

    FM 105.2 in the West Midlands has a much smaller footprint than 1215AM, not everyone has DAB, especially in our cars, or even an internet connection.
    Leave AM alone!

  12. Andy says

    I have DAB on when driving via a Pure receiver through AUX input. Ever listen on AM but would love DAB to return to stereo. Have to go near London to get that on local multiplex. Yes better sound in needed so if am is turned off improve DAB to + on D1 Network

  13. Andy says

    As an hgv driver I still listen to Absolute across the country on AM as do a lot of other commercial vehicle drivers. DAB may be in newer cars but not the vans and lorries across the country. DAB adapters are awful and no good when constantly swapping trucks every day. I don’t rate the app either as it’s constantly buffering with a 4g network that still has huge black spots even on major motorways.
    Reduce your AM coverage at your peril Bauer media. Still you turned Gold radio into digital only so is the listeners really don’t care.

  14. David says

    One of the most important services is the BBC World Service, and that’s not on analogue at all. The inevitable trend is to close AM in the UK, and for few listeners remaining now, it’s too expensive to keep running. If Absolute and the BBC does not close AM, it takes the money needed to develop modern platforms. It’s progress, and Norway has already taken that step some time ago, David

  15. John Hallett-Commander says

    If absolute radio went to FM radio then they would be the top radio shows in the UK, and it would be the deaths knell for radio 1 and radio 2 , I would love to see the station be granted a UK wide licence as the others would have to up their game .

  16. Michael V says

    Just wondering. It’s may now… Is there an update? What sites have been closed & power reduced?

  17. Michael V says

    @peter stanley PURE make great in car adapters. The is a cable that u can run along the bottom of windscreen and up the side. I had one in the early days. Definitely worth getting a PURE.
    It is time to decommission AM. But we need to have FM/DAB & DAB+ coverage to match. The older generation who still listen to MW & LW really need to educate themselves on alternative ways to listen now. Before they find their fav radio station has switched off AM services. With all due respect, they are being stubborn, from some of the comments I see.

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