On Friday 26 September at the Somerset County Cricket Club Ground in Taunton, the Mayor of Taunton Deane, Dave Durdan, will officially switch on new DAB digital radio transmitters, giving over 500,000 listeners local stations on DAB in the Somerset area for the first time. The switch-on means listeners will be able to receive 5 local radio stations - BBC Somerset, Heart, Capital, Smooth Radio and Triple Hits on DAB digital radio.
To receive the new services, listeners with digital radios may have to retune their sets. Find out more at getdigitalradio.com/retune.
The big switch-on takes place at Somerset County Cricket Club in Taunton. There are three new transmitters launching at Mendip, Taunton and Hutton. Once these transmitters have been switched on, local DAB digital radio coverage for these stations will go from zero to over 71% of households in the area, and they will add over 580km of roads into local DAB coverage for the first time.
The new transmitters have brought local DAB coverage to over five million people for the first time, taking local DAB population coverage from 66% to 73%. By the end of 2016, a further 200 local DAB transmitters are planned making DAB available to an additional eight million listeners across the UK. This will extend coverage to more than 90% of the population and add over 6,700 km of roads into coverage.
The BBC buildout of 162 new digital radio transmitters to improve DAB coverage for its national network of stations is already underway to improve coverage from 94% to 97%.
In Somerset, 44% of the population has access to a DAB digital radio, and in Q2 2014, 37% of radio listening hours were to digital platforms.
A cumulative total of over 19 million digital radio sets has been sold to date in the UK. 55% of new cars now come fitted with digital radio as standard (CAP/SMMT July 2014).
Dave Durdan, Mayor of Taunton Deane, said: “I welcome the switch-on of these local stations on DAB in Somerset for the first time – local radio is important and well-loved.”
Jane Ostler, Director of Digital Radio UK, said: “This is great news for over 500,000 people in Somerset as until now they have not been able to receive local stations on DAB. Boosting coverage for this area means listeners can tune into their favourite local stations on DAB for the first time.”
Gareth Cottier-Jansen of Triple MuxCo said: “In Somerset around 44% of households have a DAB radio and our new transmitters will enable them to hear their favourite local stations without having to switch back to FM or AM, plus brand new stations for the county. Favourite stations and new choices – that’s good for all. Our investment in local radio is also enhanced by our own new station ‘Triple Hits’ extending the listener choice.”
Paul Andrew, Regional Managing Editor of Heart Bristol and Somerset, said: “We’re excited to bring Heart, Smooth and Capital to digital radio in Somerset. We know our listeners love the great music we play, and now they can listen in digital quality."
Tamsin Curnow, Managing Editor of BBC Somerset said: “We are delighted that BBC Somerset will be available on DAB for the first time. We know that many of our listeners have been looking forward to this and we hope that new listeners will take the opportunity to tune in too.”