BBC Radio to close more medium wave transmitters

The BBC says it is closing a further 18 medium wave transmitters across England, Scotland and Wales in the next stage of its plan to cut costs.

Services being closed range from BBC Radio Solent’s two AM frequencies on the South Coast to BBC Radio Scotland’s service in Aberdeen.

Six more BBC Local Radio services will no longer be transmitted on AM – they are Three Counties Radio (630 and 1161 kHz), BBC Radio Merseyside (1485 KHz), BBC Radio Newcastle (1458 KHz), BBC Radio Solent and BBC Radio Solent (for Dorset) 999 and 1359 KHz, BBC Radio Cornwall (630 and 657 kHz) and BBC Radio York (1260 KHz).

Kieran Clifton, Director, BBC Distribution & Business Development explains: “The majority of radio listening in the UK – including to the BBC – is now digital, and digital listening is continuing to grow.

“This change was planned as long ago as 2011, but we have taken a measured approach to implement it to ensure that as many of you as possible have already moved on to other ways of receiving the services before we make this change. We know that the changes will impact some of you, and that’s why we’re speaking about the plans again now. We want to make sure that people listening to these transmissions will be able to use other methods to hear the same programmes.”

“The BBC is committed to a digital future for radio, and in the past few years we have funded local DAB expansion, made all local radio stations available on digital terrestrial TV (such as Freeview), and we have transformed our online and mobile offering with BBC Sounds. Together with FM (which has recently been expanded for Radio Wales), these ways of receiving our stations now make up the great majority of listening, and as a result continuing to transmit these services on medium wave would no longer represent good value for money.

In addition, the following stations will have reduced MW coverage:

BBC Radio Scotland: Areas in and around both Aberdeen and Kirkcudbright

BBC Radio Wales: Tywyn, Forden and Llandrindod Wells transmitter areas

BBC Radio Cumbria: Areas in and around Whitehaven

BBC Radio Norfolk: Areas in and around Norwich

Two years ago the BBC closed 13 medium wave transmitters meaning no more AM service for BBC Radio Sussex, Surrey, Humberside, Wiltshire, Nottingham, Kent, and Lincolnshire, plus reduced medium-wave coverage for BBC Devon, Lancashire and Essex.

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50 Comments
  1. Gary Wilkinson says

    Sign of the times…theres way more RFI from Electronics and less Radios in Cars with MW let alone LW…High Power AM is expensive as well so they’ll save a bit money on the Electricity

    1. Gareth Hart says

      I pick up RFI on DAB from LED lights, LED TV’s, traffic lights, buses and vehicles. Particularly noticeable in the centre of towns if you walk around with a pocket DAB radio when the shops are open and closed to hear the difference in reception.

      Not just an AM problem, a DAB problem too.

    2. AlMorr says

      Not really, all those transmitters are low power saving pennies, a real savings would be to close the Long Wave Service in England, also the two high powered Mediam Wave transmitters in Scotland.
      France recently closed its high powerd Long Wave transmitter of Europe 1

      1. Mr Boltar says

        “France recently closed its high powerd Long Wave transmitter of Europe 1”

        That peed me off because along with RTL on 234Khz I listened to it to keep my French up to date. Ironically it won’t be saving them any money or power as the transmitter is still on air as it also transmits the French time signal phase modulated on the same frequency. If you tune in with a radio you get full power dead air.

      2. David says

        AlMoor, there are plenty of places in Great Britan (I couldn’t find a map for Northern Ireland) where there is no digital radio,FM or Mobile Phone signal. They are predominately in Scotland and Wales but there are some areas in England too. Switching off 198kHz, 810kHz in Scotland and 882kHz in Wales would deprive these areas of a useful service. Also the 198kHz frequency is used as a backup by the maritime community as FM and DAB are limited in their range. Also let us not forget the expat community in Europe who like to keep in touch with things going on back home and either don’t have the ability to or want to receive their news by the Internet. RTÉ tried to shutdown their 252kHz transmitter and there was a big backlash from the rural community and Irish people living in the UK that they have recently had the transmitter serviced and new valves installed. To write off LW and MW without taking into account the technical reality and needs of remote listeners would be, in my view, foolhardy.

  2. melvyn dalley says

    Sadly no more dxing on mw ,and some stations will no longer be heard where i live as DAB coverage is crap compared to MW, sad to see

    1. Dave says

      About time they stopped wasting money & closed all the AM transmitters.
      All BBC radio channels are available on freevew nationally as well as in most areas of the country on DAB & exsept 5 live FM.

      1. Tony Currie says

        Wrong. In Scotland, the main BBC radio Services are NOT available on Freeview from 4pm onwards.

        1. Ted says

          They’re all of their head on Buckfast by then anyway 😉

          1. Peter Barjonas says

            Not really, but we will be on independence day one, neighbour!

  3. Ray Woodward says

    Not before time, they should turn the whole lot off including , 693, 909 and 990 and put the World Service on 198 24/7 ..!

    1. Sue says

      I never here the bbc promoting the fact you can get BBC radio channels on freeview?.
      Best thing would be to close all AM.

  4. Scott says

    About time too, I haven’t listen to medium wave for years and not likely to return back to it, I don’t think many people listen to medium wave radio anymore, DAB and online radio is the future, RIP AM Radio.

    1. Roger Bowen says

      AM radio is not dead! Radio Caroline now transmits (legally with Ofcom licence) from Orfordness on what was the BBC’s old World Service frequency, 648kHz, and using their old reserve omnidirectional mast at 1kW ERP.

      1. mb23 says

        Nobody knows how many are listening though.

        It always amuses me that the same people complaining about mono 80k music stations on DAB are happy to listen to medium wave. Surely all music stations should be broadcast in stereo in 2020?

        1. AlMorr says

          Medium and Long Wave brings happy memories to me, but that was way back in the 60’s and 70’s, it’s now 2020 but I have not listened to any AM broadcasting for at least 10 years now.

          1. neil houghton says

            why not Radio Caroline is on 648 and 1360 (manx) once a month

  5. Radio Geordie says

    Maybe its just me, but didn’t they [the beeb] try to close the AM transmitter of BBC Merseyside before only for all hell to break loose (in Radio 4 style)?

    BBC Newcastle’s AM signal should’ve been closed down years ago as only a clash in football commentaries result in split frequency broadcasts, which can be done on DAB without to much trouble. So that there’s no bias towards Newcastle on FM, they could always do what Century [now heart] did an get an additional FM transmitter to cover the Sunderland area separately using either 88.0, 94.6 or 104.0 FM,

    I can see why the BBC are not quick to switch off all of the AM transmitters as some areas are better served by an AM signal as they have dodgy or no FM reception at all. Parts of Gloucestershire (Forest of Dean) & Western parts of Somerset are a prime example.

    1. Radio Geordie says

      Forgot to add, when are the transmitters being switched off?
      I only ask as the story doesn’t mention it.

      1. Willie Bone says

        Radio Geordie, I believe, the AM transmitters scheduled to close will bow out during Q2 (2020)..

    2. mb23 says

      There was a temporary closure of BBC Merseyside on AM and some people in North Wales complained about the loss of Liverpool/Everton football commentary. This isn’t available online and Merseyside DAB doesn’t have the same reach.

      The cost savings outweigh the benefits of keeping on side a few people who don’t even live in the Merseyside area.

  6. NEAL says

    Kieran Clifton needs to spend more time listening to all the complaints about the BBC Sounds App and how crap it is compared to the old iPlayer one together with the removal of BBC Radio from tune in making multiple room listening on a large number of wireless speakers now impossible along with the inability to wake up to BBC stations on the alarm settings of these devices too. Don’t turn off the old until the new is working properly. However poor Kieran unfortunately has his head in the clouds where his BBC Sounds App is concerned and totally delusional about its brilliance.Trust me Kieran it is really no where near as good as you seem to think it is!

    1. Ray Woodward says

      People really need to get over themselves (speaking as someone who regularly listens to BBC radio at Hi-fi quality and has no trouble whatsoever and hasn’t used TuneIN for years) …

      1. neal says

        By removing their services from the tunein app which many streaming speakers and devices use you can no longer listen to BBC stations in a multi room environment. I used to be able to stream the old iplayer app to an airport express but the Sounds App will not do that. Yes where I can I use my faithful high end FM tuner but unfortunately I cannot pick up the BBC stations I want on it as they are too far away. It really is not a case of getting over ourselves there is a BBC blog on this very subject with loads of complaints on it all of which as usual are being completely ignored because after all we the public are not paying for it are we??!!

  7. James Herbert says

    Makes me think it wasn’t a technical fault on Solent’s 1359khz for the last six + months making it unlistenable but something planned to drive any diehards away.

  8. JASON ANDREW TOPPIN says

    TALKSPORT WILL L BUY THOSE MEDIUM WAVE TRANSMITTERS TAT BBC RADIO SHUT DOWEN IN ENGLAND. SCOTLAND AND WALES THYEREFYURE ADDYBG MORER BRISTISH LISTYENERS TO TASLKSPORT.

    1. mb23 says

      Talksport are switching off some of their AM transmitters, they have no plans to add any more.

    2. Mike says

      Please translate?

    3. Nev jack says

      Talksport are closing many of the LOCAL am txs,and the main ones are now not synchronised and cause a lot of channel echo ,and distortion, etc,not good for their listeners…

      1. Joe Smith says

        To be fair Talksport is not good for listeners even when broadcasting in perfect clarity.

  9. Paul Putnam says

    I’m visiting Perth in Western Australia & a quick scan of the MW band here reveals a large number of stations of all types still on the band. News & music are well catered for & at least two regularly relay BBC World Service radio. Just an observation !

  10. Nev jack says

    Re the local footy commentaries,listening on line and other media,you cannot get these for “contractual ” reasons,which means you may miss out! It’s not all plain sailing as some make out!👎 Many local services may not want an extra dab transmission only for a soccer feature due to the cost!

  11. Nev jack says

    local footy commentaries,listening on line and other media,you cannot get these for “contractual ” reasons,which means you may miss out! It’s not all plain sailing as some make out!👎 Many local services may not want an extra dab transmission only for a soccer feature due to the cost!

  12. Nev jack says

    Are we all assuming all cars for example have dab? Wrong,at least 50% don’t as yet???

    1. mb23 says

      It’s in about 93% of new cars.

  13. Harjeet says

    Mw was dead long time just flogging dead horse like lw poor audio quality content inference and listening habits changed over time as move media came available to listens

  14. mel says

    There nothing wrong with audio quality on MW , just they make rubbish am radios these day , my Hacker ,Roberts and some of the valve sets sound much better than many Dab sets , Time also they sorted the football stuff out for it to be online , MW was great for football as it goes much better than DAB and FM,. Freeview was ok till i lost many stations due to them putting them on the same channel , in the last retune .

    1. mb23 says

      They can’t do nothing about the online commentary rights for local radio.

      Talksport & 5 Live hold the national rights to the PL & the EFL so the local commentaries can’t be made available outside the local area..

  15. d rob says

    Only Spain in Western Europe uses AM to any extent, they are so energy inefficient they should be switched off now, as France and Germany have done.

    1. david worth says

      romania and hungry and czech repulic have vam networks, but are slowly moving to dab plus

  16. Stephen Hall says

    Radio York still available on 666 AM, I believe.

    1. Jim Birkett says

      After dark in Brighton I can receive BBC Merseyside on 1485 MW! Also BBC three counties on 630 in daytime.

  17. Chris says

    Elderly people are going to be most affected by these changes, their neither understand or care for the internet and have their radio as company. One transmitter in LW that covers most of the nation is more efficient than thousands of DAB transmitters all running.

  18. ALASTAIR MARTIN says

    Elderly people will have tv so will have their bbc station on that.
    It’s time the BBC went dab+ and closed all the AM and FM.

    1. Alan says

      As an elderly person I do not have a TV set, gave up in 2010. I am sure I am not the only elderly person in the UK with no TV. My local ILR station was taken over by Bauer so it now transmits “local”programes from the other end of the country. I live in an area which does not get the new “national” digital stations and the BBC I am sure will soon get round to cutting off our MW stations.

  19. Michael V says

    I remember when Radio Bristol closed their MW transmitter. BBC expand Bristol’s DAB multiplex coverage to ensure better reliability. We have good coverage of the mux here along South East Wales, South of the M4.
    If DAB coverage is patchy in areas where MW is to be decommissioned then they may help improve coverage.

    Radio Wales should switch off MW for South East Wales & South West Wales as DAB coverage is solid, with multiple FM frequencies also, [that they really don’t need]

    I really believe that now is the time to decomission MW where DAB & FM are good enough.

    There are many other ways to listen. Smart speaker, smartphone apps, TV,
    Elderly people need to be educated as many are still on MW radios. I don’t believe that they will have to miss out on their favourite radio station. It’s up to us younger generation to educate the older ones who may not know of other options.

  20. MR I W JONES says

    Sorry to see BBC sees fit to Close it Dorset MW frequency as Fm transmitter is based near to Axminster in Devon, the service is very patchy at the moment. Suggest 1359 AM is kept ed live until an alternative FM transmitter can be found as BBC Solent for Dorset will loose listeners as a result.
    The transmitter is in Devon as when BBC Dorset ran for a short time it was an opt out service of BBC Radio Devon, before transferring to BBC Radio Solent.

    1. david worth says

      There i s a fm tx for solent dorset on 103.8

  21. David poulton says

    Yes FM is patchy and when I switch on a bedroom light Dab and Dab + disappears. If I large vehicle passes my house the Freeview goes off and takes minutes to return. Digital is poor and really crap and Radio Caroline is on 648 and that can be heard over a large part of England at 1000w from Orford Ness. So Mw is not dead by a long way.

  22. Jeremy Morley says

    I must admit, for those of us of a certain age and with a passion for radio, medium wave is an old friend. We grew up listening to our favourite stations in the 1970’s on AM, happily accepting poor quality mono, static & the night time interference from the high powered transmitters in continental Europe.

    Indeed, now in the later half of my 50’s I still sometimes enjoy listening to my local AM transmitter on 999 in Nottingham when in the car, just for the nostalgia of those old days.

    But, times do change. Many FM stations have, over the years, undergone significant upgrades in transmitters, powers & reallocation of frequencies to ensure a greater reach. An ever increasing number of households also own both DAB radios & computers. I was listening, earlier this evening, to 7HO FM in Hobart, Australia on the internet in extremely high quality stereo audio. This would have been beyond my wildest dreams back in 1975.

    It is, nonetheless, very sad to see an old friend dying, slowly but surely. For a radio listener, however, the upside is that the same demise does not (yet) appear to be happening in the USA & Canada. While much of Europe, with the exception of Spain, appears to have closed down on medium wave the silence on the band in the small hours does allow for the reception of stations across the Atlantic that were very difficult to hear in the past.

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