Ofcom has today published a consultation setting out its plans to license small-scale DAB. The consultation, titled ‘Licensing small-scale DAB – How Ofcom would exercise its new powers and duties being proposed by Government’, sets out Ofcom’s proposed spectrum planning and licensing process for small-scale radio multiplex licences which would enable hundreds of new local digital radio stations to start broadcasting in the UK from next year.
Small-scale DAB is cutting-edge technology, providing local commercial, community and specialist music stations with a low-cost route to hitting the digital airwaves, and with over 40% of the UK’s radio listening now taking place on DAB, the proposals mark a major step towards expanding local DAB coverage, giving listeners an even wider choice of new digital radio stations.
The consultation also includes proposals for the issuing of Community Digital Sound Programme (C-DSP) licences, a new type of licence designed for community radio services broadcasting on DAB.
Ofcom are seeking views from stakeholders on a range of key issues, including their approach to developing a coverage area plan for small-scale radio multiplex services; how they intend to advertise small-scale radio multiplex licences; and how they will assess applications for small-scale radio multiplex licences.
Graham Plumb, Ofcom’s Director of Spectrum Broadcasting said:
“People increasingly prefer digital radio, and by enabling smaller stations to join this digital revolution, we can broaden the choice for local listeners up and down the country.
Small-scale DAB uses advances in software and low-cost computer technology to provide a flexible and inexpensive approach to the terrestrial broadcast of digital radio services to a relatively small geographic area. In the UK, the concept was first tested by Ofcom engineer Rashid Mustapha in 2012 and subsequently the Government funded a series of trials, licensed and facilitated by Ofcom, to test the feasibility of the technology. The trials demonstrated that small-scale DAB can provide a robust and reliable means for small analogue stations to broadcast on digital, as well as for entrants wishing to launch new radio services on a digital terrestrial platform
Ofcom would like to hear from interested parties by Friday 4 October and intend to start advertising licences early in 2020.
From 21st June at 7am you can listen to non-stop club classics with a new station, Heart Dance. The station will be dedicated to some of the great club classics ever made from artists such as Basement Jaxx, Daft Punk, Ne-Yo, Ultra Naté, Fatboy Slim and Armand Van Helden.
Playing the greatest feel good club classics the station will launch with Toby Anstis and his brand new Heart Dance breakfast show, weekdays from 7am – 10am, whilst Lucy Horobin will host the drive time slot weekdays from 4pm – 7pm. Lucy will also be presenting a weekend show every Saturday from 10am – 1pm.
On Friday and Saturday nights, Heart Dance will get the weekend in full swing as Heart’s Club Classics will be simulcast on both Heart and Heart Dance, with Toby Anstis hosting every Friday from 7pm and Pandora on Saturday from 7pm.
James Rea, Managing Editor of Heart says: "Heart Dance will be a brilliant addition to the Heart brand - just in time for the Summer! Listeners will be able to re-live the greatest times of their life with the biggest club classic dance tunes of all time. I'm delighted we'll also have a terrific line-up that includes some of Heart's top presenters including Toby Anstis, Lucy Horobin and Pandora."
Toby Anstis says: "To present the breakfast show on a brand-new national station, playing the music I have always loved with a passion, is a dream! To top it off, we also have my good mate Lucy Horobin getting listeners home at drive time. Heart is my natural home and a place I love. I can't wait to get started, waking up the UK with some bangers from 7am on Friday 21st June live on Heart Dance!"
From Friday 21st June at 7am tune into Heart Dance on DAB digital radio across the UK, on the Heart app, on Global Player, on your smart speaker by saying “play Heart Dance” and at heart.co.uk.
Ofcom has advertised three new DAB licences in North England and South Scotland inviting applications to provide a local radio multiplex service, or services, in the Morecambe Bay, North and West Cumbria, and Southwest Scotland areas. Three frequencies will be available which can be used to cover part, or all, of the areas. The number of licences awarded will depend on the applications received, and how the applicants propose to use the available spectrum. The new multiplexes will provide a welcome digital boost for listeners in the areas, with South West Scotland and North Cumbria being among the areas with lowest digital listening in the UK.
Ofcom had originally planned to offer two licences, with North West Cumbria and South West Scotland combined. The regulator reconsidered this approach following feedback from stakeholders to instead advertise the availability of three DAB frequency-blocks which can be used on their own, or in different combinations, to provide DAB coverage across part, or the whole, of the area.
Commenting, the regulator said:
“It will be up to applicants to decide which frequency-block or blocks they wish to use to achieve their desired coverage for their proposed programme service providers. Ofcom will then award a local radio multiplex licence, or licences up to a maximum of three having regard to the criteria in section 51 of the Broadcasting Act 1996, and the available spectrum.”
The closing date for applications is 11 September 2019.
Find out more here.
Over 75 million domestic and automotive DAB digital radios had been sold in Europe and Asia Pacific by the end of 2018, up from 65 million in Q4 2017, according to the latest international market report published by WorldDAB, the organisation responsible for furthering the international take up of DAB and DAB+.
Available to download as an infographic here, the new data draws on multiple sources to give a comprehensive overview of the latest statistics on DAB receiver sales, road and population coverage, household penetration, and the number of national stations on DAB/DAB+. The report covers Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, and the UK.
In the UK, digital listening has reached a new record share of 56.4%, with over two thirds (71.6%) of all digital listening attributed to DAB, and the Government has recently announced the launch of a review to ensure a healthy and vibrant digital future for UK radio, expected to be concluded in 2020.
DAB/DAB+ is now established as the primary future radio broadcast platform for radio in Europe – a position underlined by a number of recent regulatory interventions.
On a pan-European level, the EECC directive adopted by the EU in December 2018 requires all new car radios in the EU to be capable of receiving digital terrestrial radio by the end of 2020. Italy has already put legislation in place to ensure that it complies with the directive by the start of 2020, while France – whose aggressive rollout of DAB continues to sweep across the country – has also triggered a receiver law requiring all new car radios released from June 2020 to include DAB+ digital radio capabilities.
Key findings from the WorldDAB report include:
• In the UK, 67% of households have at least one DAB radio
• Over 11 million receivers have been sold in Germany
• In Switzerland, 64% of all radio listening is via digital platforms
• In Italy, 46% of new cars are now sold with DAB+, up from 32% in 2017
• 6 million receivers have been sold in Norway
• In Australia, 69% of new cars are now sold with DAB+, up from 47% in 2017
DAB is also seeing significant activity across Asia, Middle East, and Africa, and the infographic details the rollout status in 21 emerging markets including information on trials and population coverage.
Following the launch of the findings, WorldDAB president, Patrick Hannon, commented:
“The last 12 months have been an exceptional period for DAB radio. The EU has adopted a directive requiring all new car radios to be capable of receiving digital terrestrial broadcasts; new markets such as France, Belgium and Austria are launching national DAB+ services and established markets including Germany, the UK, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Italy and Australia are reporting record levels of digital listening. In 2018, 10 million DAB receivers were sold worldwide. We expect this figure to be easily surpassed in the years ahead.”