The launch of new digital transmitters that have transformed the availability of local radio services on DAB digital radio for listeners throughout Cornwall was celebrated at a special ‘switch on’ event at Charlestown Primary School in St Austell this morning (Friday, April 21).
Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay and Sarah Newton, MP for Truro and Falmouth, pressed the big green digital radio switch at 08.45am to signify the expansion of local DAB coverage in St Austell and across Cornwall in front of pupils and staff from Charlestown Primary School and representatives and presenters from Cornwall’s local radio stations. The expansion of coverage means that many listeners can now receive six further radio stations - BBC Radio Cornwall, Heart South West, Pirate FM, My Music Radio, Capital and Gold - on DAB digital radio for the first time.
The new transmitters have transformed DAB digital radio coverage throughout Cornwall. Nine new transmitters have launched in the past ten months - including one serving St Austell where this morning’s celebration took place- and a final transmitter will launch in Bude in the coming weeks. The ten transmitters bring the county’s popular local stations to 325,000 more listeners on DAB digital radio in Cornwall and have expanded local DAB coverage to 91% of households from 41%.
Although DAB digital radios are in over 55% of homes in Cornwall and almost 90% of new cars many listeners in Cornwall were unable to receive their favourite local stations on DAB digital radio before the new transmitters, which have been built by communications infrastructure company Arqiva, launched.
Listeners in Cornwall are encouraged to retune their digital radios to ensure they receive all their available stations, including the county’s local stations, on DAB. (See Notes to Editors for further information).
Cornwall’s ten new digital transmitters are part a programme of work co-funded by Government, BBC and commercial multiplex operators to expand coverage of local DAB stations from 75% to 90% of UK households, in line with FM coverage for commercial radio. Over 200 local DAB transmitters have been built nationwide and the local DAB expansion programme is largely complete with the last remaining few transmitters to launch by the summer. In total, an additional 10 million adults and over 4,000 miles of the UK road network have been brought into coverage for local DAB stations.
Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay, said: “Today we are celebrating the launch of not just one, but ten transmitters, which have collectively transformed the coverage of local stations on DAB digital radio across the county. I am delighted that a further 325,000 listeners across Cornwall will now be able to hear these much-loved stations, which play such an important role in serving the local community, on digital radio.”
Sarah Newton, MP for Truro and Falmouth, said: “Local radio is very popular in Cornwall, keeping listeners up to date with the news, sport and entertainment that matters to them. Today’s event signifies a transformation in the availability of local digital radio right across the county, including in Falmouth and Truro where listeners have benefitted from a digital radio boost.”
Mark Clutsom, Head teacher, Charlestown Primary, said: “We’re so proud to have hosted such an exciting occasion on behalf of the county at our school and to have welcomed our local MP and Cornwall’s local stations. The pupils have loved the big green switch, meeting the radio presenters and finding out more about digital radio.”
Ford Ennals, CEO Digital Radio UK, said: “This is a big day for radio and a big day for Cornwall. Now over 90% of households in the county will be able to receive their favourite local radio station on DAB digital radio – many for the first time. We are seeing a long term transition to digital radio and digital listening and it’s great that Cornwall is part of this digital revolution.”
Daphne Skinnard, Assistant Editor, BBC Radio Cornwall, said: “BBC Radio Cornwall has been at the heart of Cornwall for over 30 years bringing news, local information and great music to people and local communities and it’s great that so many more will now be able to listen to us on their DAB digital radios which is something they have been asking for. “
Tristan Hunkin, Content Director, Pirate FM, said: “Pirate FM is proud to be the only local commercial station made in Cornwall for Cornwall and we are pleased to support today’s big switch-on in Charlestown as part of our 25th birthday celebrations. The launch of the new digital transmitters means more listeners will also be able to discover My Music Radio – the home of the seventies and more.”
Richard Spencer, Managing Editor, Heart South West, said: “At Global we’re excited to be introducing the UK’s biggest commercial radio stations, Heart and Capital, into even more of Cornwall’s homes on DAB digital radio. Alongside Gold, they have already proved to be popular in the county so we look forward to welcoming new listeners.”
Richard Johnston, Head of Commercial Radio, Arqiva, said: “Arqiva has been extremely busy over the last year building hundreds of additional national and local DAB transmitters across the UK to bring DAB digital radio into millions more homes and thousands of miles of the road network. We are delighted to complete the expansion of local DAB coverage in Cornwall enabling over 300,000 more people to receive their local stations on DAB. “