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.
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 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 Cumbria, Heart 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We’ve put out this press release this morning about our desire for Ofcom to advertise another local multiplex for Manchester.
DAB Digital Radio has had a great few years with both increased listening and a strong demand for capacity from existing and new operators. We’ve been supportive of the small scale DAB trial – which has also shown demand from community and other operators to broadcast to limited geographies.
We believe that there’s also demand for additional traditionally-sized commercial multiplexes in places where there are large numbers of listeners, but a lack of space for new entrants who want robust city-wide coverage. We’re encouraging Ofcom to make more spectrum available.
MuxCo looks to Ofcom to advertise a second Manchester-wide multiplex
MuxCo, one of the UK’s largest operators of local DAB digital radio multiplexes, has announced today (8th December) it is seeking to launch an additional Manchester multiplex to complement the city’s current multiplex operated by CE Digital.
MuxCo – which runs the adjacent Wrexham, Chester and Liverpool multiplex – is talking to Ofcom, MPs and the radio industry about why a second commercial Manchester multiplex should be advertised. Its three shareholders have agreed to work together towards a new Manchester DAB multiplex. They already operate a number of analogue and digital stations in the North West and also provide services to the small scale Manchester trial multiplex. If advertised and awarded to MuxCo, a second Manchester multiplex would enjoy economies of scale to aid scale and affordability for new local services in the city.
The MuxCo philosophy is about engaging local operators with digital radio, as both shareholders and service providers. The MuxCo Wrexham, Chester and Liverpool multiplex currently provides eight local commercial services – six of which are new to the area or extensions of community services – alongside the two Welsh services from the BBC. The multiplex is supportive of DAB+, with three services currently broadcasting in stereo using that technology.
Gregory Watson, Managing Director of MuxCo, says “Manchester is a thriving media market and its current multiplex is full. It is inequitable that whilst London has three local multiplexes offering a fantastic array of stations, Manchester has just the one city-wide multiplex. We already have enough interested operators to comfortably make a second Manchester multiplex viable”.
Jason Bryant, Executive Chairman of Nation Broadcasting said; “Competitive media markets such as Manchester are important to Nation Broadcasting’s future strategy. The current Manchester multiplex is full and its current operator has no ambition to upgrade to DAB+, stifling innovation. A second city wide multiplex would open up competition for local businesses and provide listeners with a fresh variety of new services”.
Dee 106.3 Director Chris Hurst said “Manchester did have two multiplexes – with the original MXR North West multiplex and the citywide one. It is a fact that choice has actually reduced for listeners and prospective radio operators and we want to fill the market gap that clearly exists”.