More choice for listeners as local digital radio launches in the Channel Islands

Listeners in the Channel Islands are waking up to a digital radio revolution as local DAB digital radio is switched on for the very first time across Jersey and Guernsey.

The Islands’ DAB digital transmitters went live this weekend from Les Platons in Jersey and Les Touillets in Guernsey, broadcasting alongside the BBC’s existing national DAB transmitters, and bringing a huge expansion in radio listening choice.

Over 20 additional stations are now available across the Channel Islands, on what is now the busiest local multiplex in the British Isles. These include Heart, Capital, Smooth and Virgin, bringing famous voices such as Jamie Theakston & Amanda Holden, Roman Kemp and Chris Evans to the Islands via a free-to-air terrestrial broadcast platform; existing FM favourites BBC Radio Jersey and BBC Radio Guernsey, Channel 103 and Island FM; and additional new services from multiplex owner Nation Broadcasting, including the Islands’ only dedicated decades stations, Nation 70s, Nation 80s and Nation 90s.

The new DAB network will broadcast all services in DAB+, an upgraded and more efficient version of DAB that enables a greater number of stations to be broadcast, and is the first of its kind to launch fully in DAB+, delivering a greater range of choice with more services than any of the UK’s equivalent local multiplexes. To listen to the services via the new DAB+ network, Islanders will need a DAB+ enabled digital radio or for those services previously available on the Channel Islands, they can continue to listen by their existing means.

Listeners in Jersey, Guernsey, Herm, Sark and Alderney will receive the new network thanks to three new transmitters located in Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney covering 82% of the population and 93% of roads. Whilst the transmitters in Jersey and Guernsey have launched today, the Alderney transmitter will launch later in the year. Islanders can confirm that they are in coverage of the new network by checking their postcode at www.getdigitalradio.com and may need to retune their digital radios to receive the stations on DAB+ for the first time

Islanders will be able to enjoy new local services Soleil Radio, Bailiwick 1 and Bailiwick 2, in addition to their existing local favourites like BBC Radio Jersey, BBC Radio Guernsey, Channel 103 and Island FM, alongside some of the UK’s most popular commercial radio stations, including Heart, Capital, Nation Radio, Virgin Radio, Times Radio and talkSPORT.

Jason Bryant, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Channel Islands multiplex parent company, Nation Broadcasting, said: “Digital radio has always meant more choice and we’re delighted to be offering such a great line up of famous radio brands, existing local favourites and innovative new local services to the Channel Islands.”

Chris Burns, Head of Local BBC Radio, said: “For more than ten years the BBC has been broadcasting its national services on DAB to Channel Islands audiences, and we are delighted to be finally bringing BBC Radio Jersey and BBC Radio Guernsey in digital broadcast quality as well. We know how fantastically popular these services are and no doubt audiences will be delighted to have the choice of digital alongside FM.”

James Keen, Station Director, Tindle Radio, said: “We’re excited to bring the Channel Islands’ most popular stations Channel 103 and Island FM to digital radio. We know listeners love our music and the local news both services provide and now they can listen in digital quality. Plus we’re thrilled to be launching our new station Soleil Radio, the Channel Islands best place to relax. Favourite stations and new choices – it’s an exciting time for radio here in the Channel Islands!”

Capital Breakfast’s Roman Kemp, said: “We’re so excited to bring Capital to a new audience in the Channel Islands and welcome our new listeners on DAB! Listeners can expect shows jam packed with their favourite hits and exclusive interviews with the world’s biggest artists.”

Ford Ennals, CEO, Digital Radio UK, said: “The launch of the Channel Islands digital radio network is great news for listeners as it brings over 20 further stations to the Channel Islands on DAB+ for the first time. Radio station brands such as Virgin Radio, Heart, Smooth, Capital and Nation are among the very best broadcasting in the UK, while local stations BBC Radio Jersey, BBC Radio Guernsey, Channel 103 and Island FM have their finger on the pulse of life on the Islands today. This is a great time for Islanders to buy a new digital radio or smart speaker to make sure they don’t miss a thing from the great new line up of stations now on air on digital radio in the Channel Islands.”

MuxCo Awarded Morecambe Bay Multiplex Licence

We’re pleased that Ofcom have today, 18th December, announced that MuxCo Cumbria Ltd has been awarded the local digital radio multiplex licence for Morecambe Bay.

In the application we talk about launching the multiplex within twelve months of a successful award. We would hope to launch sooner, if possible, but this multiplex requires some new builds for our transmission partner, so we may have to use the full time.

Capacity has been allocated to accommodate existing local analogue services from launch – BBC Radio CumbriaHeart and Smooth. Six other services were also part of our application: Bay Radio, CandoFM and Bay Trust Radio alongside Fun Kids JuniorChris Country Radio and Capital.

Managing Director of MuxCo, Gregory Watson says: “We’re excited to bring local digital radio to the Morecambe Bay area and especially happy that the multiplex will combine local stations, community stations, popular digital services and new stations too”.

If you’re interested in joining the multiplex, please do get in touch.

MuxCo Bids for Morecambe Bay and South Cumbria Licence

MuxCo Cumbria Ltd, a joint application between MuxCo Ltd and Nation Broadcasting Ltd, has submitted an application to Ofcom to establish and operate a local DAB digital radio multiplex for Morecambe Bay and South Cumbria.

MuxCo Cumbria’s proposal is to launch a multiplex within twelve months of a successful award, offering a minimum of nine services, which includes a mix of established local and national services, as well as new local stations.

Capacity has been allocated to accommodate existing local analogue services from launch – BBC Radio CumbriaHeart and Smooth. These services collectively account for 15.2% of total radio listening in Morecambe Bay.

Capacity has also been allocated to bring a range of digital services that will broaden choice and expand the number of providers in the market.

Individually and collectively, they cater for a wide range of tastes and interests. 6 new services are confirmed:

MuxCo Cumbria will launch using four transmitters initially, which will cover 78% of the population.

Gregory Watson, MuxCo’s Managing Director, said

We are pleased to submit our application to bring local DAB to Morecambe Bay. Our proposals will bring a range of new services to the area – including a number of local community services as well as existing and new commercial services, helping broaden choice. We have capacity to enable further local services to broadcast and hope that if successful, we will launch with a wider range of stations.

Jason Bryant, Executive Chairman Nation Broadcasting, said

The Morecambe Bay multiplex will build on Muxco’s existing presence in the north west, extending choice for listeners across the patch. In particular, we look forward to introducing Bay Radio to Morecambe Bay, a brand new radio local service focussed on the needs of local people and led by Bill Johnston, one of the region’s most experienced radio professionals.

MuxCo Submits Channel Islands Multiplex Application

Today, 18th July, we’re publishing our application for the local commercial digital multiplex for the Channel Islands.

The licence, advertised by Ofcom earlier this year, will bring local and commercial digital radio to the Islands for the first time.

Whilst we’ve been working on our application for nearly two years alongside Tindle Radio, the operators of the FM radio stations in Jersey and Guernsey, the growth and interest in the medium means it seems there have been two other applicants for the licence.

It’s definitely an indication in the growth of interest in digital radio and is very different from the attitudes of many, when we started MuxCo in 2007.

When putting together our bid, we’ve drawn on our team’s experience of running multiplexes over the last twenty years and combined that with something that has always helped our launches – having an investor who runs local radio stations in the market, helping them embrace DAB. Involving them in the ownership of the multiplex gives them a stake in growing the number of stations in their local area.

With these applications, it’s the line-up of stations that often draw the most attention. It’s very easy, of course, to fill an application with new potential stations, but we’ve learned that it’s important, particularly for the business plan, to build an application with a strong base of stations with prudent business models or have strong backing from local and national businesses. Having those committed service providers means you have the base to then help find solutions for new entrants.

Our line-up for the Channel Islands has a strong range of local stations. Our shareholder, Tindle Radio, are providing Island FM and Channel 103, but their involvement in the multiplex means they’re able to launch a new local service – Rewind CI. We’re also excited to have local internet radio station operators Bailiwick Radio and Contact Classic Hits involved in transitioning their stations to broadcast digital radio alongside BBC Radio Jersey and BBC Radio Guernsey.

The Islands are also relatively unique in that they do not receive the national commercial multiplexes – Digital One and Sounddigital. We’ve therefore announced national stations Fun Kids, talkSPORT, talkSPORT2, talkRADIO, Virgin Radio UK, UCB1 and UCB2 alongside a station that’s begun to appear on our other local multiplexes – Atlantis. These will join a number of additional stations that we’ve submitted in confidence to Ofcom, as they’re not yet ready to reveal their involvement.

Running multiplexes is MuxCo’s core business. We’re the only applicant with a full time multiplex management team and our systems and processes already support stations on our own MuxCo multiplexes and those we manage on behalf of the Wireless Group and Bauer. This means we’re ready to hit the ground running and bring local and commercial radio to an area that’s been starved of digital radio for a long time.

It’s also exciting to see the interest from many of the stations in broadcasting using DAB+. Across our MuxCo multiplexes nearly a quarter of our stations broadcast using DAB+ and we were the first commercial operator to have full-time DAB+ stations on-air. However, with the Tindle stations launching in regular DAB it will allow us to communicate the benefits of DAB+ (and the new stations available) to listeners with older radios.

New multiplex for the Channel Islands

Ofcom has today, 17th April, advertised a digital radio multiplex to broadcast to the Channel Islands – Jersey and Guernsey.

MuxCo, working with the operators of Channel 103 and Island FM, will be applying for the licence in due course.

As such, we are interested in hearing from potential radio stations who would like to broadcast on the multiplex. Please fill in this form to register your interest.

New Stations on Suffolk

Today (1st August), we’ve added two new stations to the Suffolk Multiplex.

Our MuxCo Suffolk shareholders were recently awarded the 102 FM licence for Ipswich. Town 102, the current analogue broadcaster on that frequency, has, today, begun simulcasting its service on the multiplex.

The new station, Ipswich 102, which is expected to take over the FM licence in October, has also begun transmitting its service on the local multiplex too.

Festive Additions

Our multiplex manager Nicky has been MuxCo’s very own Santa, busily adding a raft of festive stations to our multiplexes.

On Surrey and South London we’ve added Christmas FM and Radio Marsden Christmas. We’ve also added Christmas FM to our Wrexham, Chester and Liverpool multiplex too.

Over in North Yorkshire, Minster FM have launched a christmassy offspring in the form of Mince Pie Non-Stop supported by York Bid.

We think one of the key of benefits of digital radio is flexibility. So as well as regular full-time stations, we have a short-term ‘RSL’ opportunity and then through Upload Radio (on Wrexham, Surrey and North Yorkshire) there’s the ability for people to even buy a single hour on digital radio.

Surrey In-Car DAB Trial

Any vehicle can be converted to digital radio as this conversion of local farmer John Nicholas’s tractor showed!

As we know, the future of radio is digital. As the number of new cars with DAB as standard (86.8% in Q2 2017) continues to increase, we are seeing a significant increase in cars on the road that can access digital radio (currently approx. 10 million).

However, the majority of the UK’s 34 million cars still need upgrading to digital (and there’s 24 million of them!) and as the transition to digital radio moves on, it is vital that we all understand the challenges to converting cars and is addressing them.

From the digital radio switchover in Norway, which began in January this year, we learned a few things on a variety of issues such as the importance of trained installers, the availability of products and consumer communications.

In Norway, there are also a number of garages successfully offering conversions to customers when providing servicing and MOT, which is not yet happening in the UK.

Surrey is one of the most digital areas in the UK, with over 70% of homes having a digital radio and over 53% of all listening is to digital. There are now over 50 stations available in Surrey on DAB, including the brilliant bunch of local stations on our multiplex. By upgrading their car to digital radio, drivers can have all the digital stations they enjoy at home in their car too.

What is it?

The Go Digital Car conversion pilot has been put together and coordinated by Digital Radio UK, and sees local broadcasters, garages and retailers working together to make it easier for drivers to get digital radio in their car. It is also supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

A wider range of digital radio car adapters and new services will be introduced in Surrey, and for the first time drivers will be able to get digital radio fitted in their when they book it in for a service or MOT.

The local radio broadcasters from our multiplex involved include BBC Radio Surrey, Eagle Radio, Jack FM, Heart Surrey and Premier Praise. They will be communicating the benefits of digital radio in car by running ads, features and listener competitions to win in-car digital radios and car adaptors.

The retailers and garages supporting the Surrey pilot include Halfords and Halfords Autocentres, KwikFit and independent garages and retailers.

The radio and adapter manufacturers involved include Nextbase, Pure, Sony, RadioPlayer Car, Kenwood JVC and AutoDAB, and from Norway Tiny and POP.

When’s it happening?

It launches today – Monday 16th October and runs for three months until the 12th January 2018.

Why?

By running the pilot in Surrey, we hope to establish learnings to improve the experience of getting the UK’s cars upgraded to digital radio that can be rolled out nationally. We will be running joined-up industry communications to promote and educate people about converting cars to digital radio. We will conduct consumer research on their experience of getting cars converted and using the new equipment. And ultimately, increase the availability of digital radio in car upgrades and drivers’ awareness and understanding of how and where to do it.

Ipswich FM Licence

In regards to Ofcom’s advertisement of an FM licence in Ipswich:

MuxCo Suffolk‘s a big believer in local radio – whether that’s analogue or digital. With the recent changes to Town 102, there’s now no local commercial radio based in Ipswich, so we think there’s a great opportunity to create a brilliant station for the area that will be broadcast on FM and DAB Digital Radio.

We’ve been talking to people and businesses across Ipswich and we look forward to sharing our plans soon.

Get in touch by emailing ipswich@muxco.com.

Upload Radio Launches on MuxCo Multiplexes

This morning (24th April), Upload Radio launched on our Wrexham, Chester and Liverpool, Gloucestershire and Surrey & South London multiplexes.

Upload Radio allows anyone to create hour long radio shows and broadcast them on DAB Digital Radio, online and mobile. It’s the world’s first self-service broadcast radio station. Upload’s technology allows listeners to register at uploadradio.com, upload episodes and buy time-slots to broadcast their work.

Upload Radio’s Matt Deegan: “The last few years has seen an explosion in individuals creating great audio – particularly in podcast form – but it’s been hard for many people to be discovered and build an audience and nearly impossible for them to get on the radio. We’ve built Upload Radio to give everyone the chance to get on millions of radios as well as having their shows available to catchup online too”.

Upload Radio in its three DAB areas broadcasts a different local schedule.