It continues to be a busy month in August for the network.
This week we have updated Jack and Jack 2 on our Surrey multiplex to broadcast in the newer flavour of DAB Digital Radio – DAB+. This will mean that older radios may lose the service, or see it described as ‘Unavailable’.
To hear DAB+ services you need a modern tick-mark enabled digital radio.
On our North Wales multiplex we’re also pleased to have added Capital Cymru, the Welsh-language variant of Capital FM. With new transmitters launching in North Wales, there’s never been a better time for it to join the line up.
Great that more stations are moving to DAB+. Coverage needs to match FM 100% if we want to plan a migration to DAB only. I hope we see all services move to the + format
Agreed. We can’t even think of having a switchover until virtually all stations are in DAB+ and in stereo. If an FM station started today its management wouldn’t think of broadcasting in mono so why should it be allowed in DAB?
Different stations have different desires and the use technology in different ways. A station may wish to broadcast in DAB and mono, so they reach the largest number of people at the lowest cost. Indeed, their business model, in the early days, may not support a higher bitrate.
A station may want to use a small amount of capacity to broadcast multiple station, so choose DAB+.
Digital Radio has allowed an explosion in choice (usually doubling or tripling the number of audible stations) but this is mainly down to the flexibility the system provides.
Your fixed view on what is essential for digital radio would probably have meant that many multiplex operators wouldn’t have bid for licences in certain local areas as they would have realised that few stations would have been able to meet your criteria. Stations themselves wouldn’t have been able to afford to reach your fixed acceptability levels, so new entrants wouldn’t have started (even if there were multiplexes to go on).
There also wouldn’t have been the acceleration of industry work to enable today’s DAB+ explosion, because there would have been little demand from stations (as there would be fewer multiplexes and they would be half empty).
The best way to achieve your goals, Len, is to allow flexibility allowing stations to find a way on air that works for them.
Thanks for your reply Matt. I always enjoy reading your comments even if, as now, I have some reservations about them.
You say that my view is fixed: yes, guilty as charged. I do have a fixed view about we in the UK having to accept a method of transmission (mono) which hasn’t applied to FM radio or LP records for over 50 years or to CDs at all, at the same time being assured that DAB is the future and having been assured in the past that it would provide near CD quality.The UK was once the leader in DAB but the same cannot be said now and the question I would ask is why stations here can’t afford to pay for higher bit rates when those in other countries can: is it due to the higher charges made here by the multiplex operators (who themselves may be being charged more)?
I also can’t agree that Digital Radio has allowed an explosion in choice: numbers of stations yes, but choice not much. Wohnort tells that, for example, the South Yorkshire multiplex provides 11 stations of which 8 are described as pop stations and Teeside supplies 11 of which 9 are similarly described. I wouldn’t deny that there has been some broadening of choice but where are the stations for those who don’t like pop music but want to hear jazz, sport, classics, drama, standards, news etc? There are practically none.
You refer to the probability of half-empty multiplexes if my fixed view carried the day: we have these already. According to Wohnort there are several with only 5 stations as well as 1 with 4 and 2 transmitting just 3.
I am quite sure that many of the big stations fear the introduction of DAB+ because it would result in their being faced with new, competing ones and imagine they view what is happening on the Portsmouth minimux with increasing concern that this is how the situation will develop. I believe that of the major players Muxco is the most forward-looking as indeed are your own Fun Kids as well as Jazz FM and Magic chilled. More of the same please!
I find it incredibly frustrating that although there are many more new radio stations launching, the variety is poor. We are still missing much. We are lacking, a proper Jazz service, country, rock/alternative, Dance & House music, no kiss FM is not real dance music. There may be an online service called This Is Electric, that provides the house dance music I love, but stations like these can’t afford the cost the DAB multiplexes charge. Not everyone can stream music through their phone due to poor data allowances. There are too many offering similar stuff. I agree with U Len. The industry needs to change. I think We need higher bit rates and lower cost. I am certain that DAB+ should be fully adopted as it’s more affordable. The BBC are not addressing this. As they launch pop up stations, other services get suspended due to poor capacity on a mux. No one’s listening to the consumers.
As I understand it many of the existing DAB multiplexes, though not the MuxCo ones, the SDL national multiplex and the 10 small-scale multiplex trial areas, were built prior to DAB+ being even on the horizon and therefore they may not yet be capable of broadcasting in DAB+.
One would hope that given time that the investment needed to upgrade the transmitters from DAB to DAB+, including those on the BBC national multiplex, will take place to enable more stations to broadcast in stereo. If Norway and Switzerland can do it so should this country.