We agreed at lunch that Gloucestershire was application number seven for MuxCo. It’s been an interesting one to do, partly because of its proximity to Hereford and Worcester which Ofcom awarded to MuxCo last month. In fact, we think it provides a great opportunity for the stations that broadcast on both multiplexes as it grows the coverage that we’ve already planned. For example if you look at Gloucestershire on its own then we’ve said we’ll provide 78.5% coverage, but when you add in the overlap coverage from the Hereford and Worcester multiplex, the coverage within Gloucestershire increases to 92.2%.
We think this is great news for common services (like Easy Radio, Shuffle, Smithy Rock, Local Live, UCB and Traffic Radio) as it creates an enlarged region for them to broadcast to with less interuptions as listeners driver around. Our plans aren’t bad news for the local stations either. Our proposals mean that the DAB reception will exceed what’s currently provided for Severn Sound, Star and BBC Radio Gloucestershire on FM.
We’ve got a little bit of a gap now before submitting Lincolnshire (in January) but already the work’s started and right now Deanna’s asking some very specific research questions, when all we want to do is go down the pub…
Great news at MuxCo headquarters, with wins for both MuxCo Northeast Wales & Cheshire and for MuxCo Herefordshire & Worcestershire announced today. Great local radio is what we promised, and will now launch within the next 12 months. Time for a quick drink and then on with writing our North Yorkshire application.
Interesting to see our competitors, NOWdigital, changing their application a couple of months after submitting it. They said they would be provide a religious format – UCB UK. UCB, however, no longer want to provide the station, so it’s been removed from their application with NOWdigital saying it will be replaced by an “unspecified local digital sound programme service… within one year of the multiplex going on-air”.
It seems quite a late change, especially as we think the licence will be awarded on September 6th! It’s also not the only change, since submitting the application we’ve seen them change their transmitter configurations and which versions of services they’ll be launching in the area. We’re obviously sure that this has nothing to do with a better bid from MuxCo! But then we would say that, I suppose…
In response to this change (well, the first one anyway) Ofcom have said whilst they have accepted the UCB amendment they’re interested in citizens views about it. You can write to Neil Stock, Head of Radio, Ofcom, Riverside House, 2a Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 9HA or email him – email@example.com.
It’s always interesing to see the other bidder’s line-up when the Ofcom press release comes out. In case you haven’t i’ve shown it below. On the left is the NOWdigital bid, on the right is the MuxCo bid, the highlighted area is ‘the MuxCo difference’.
It’s just coming up to three o’clock, which is the customary time for me to write a blog post about the latest application to go in. Oxfordshire’s been an interesting one to work on, a few ups and downs, but we’re incredibly pleased with what we’ve just submitted, we think it’s our best line-up yet.
It doesn’t happen very often, so I think it’s worth a mention here. NOWdigital has advertised that there’s some available capacity on the London 3 multiplex owned by GCap, UTV, SMG and Carphone Warehouse. They don’t say how much capacity, but they’re asking potential operators to download an application form and return it to the multiplex manager by the end of the week.
Oh, and if you need any advice, we’re always here to help!
Congratulations to Channel 4 and 4digitalgroup on the award of the new national digital radio multiplex. It’s good to see Ofcom award the licence to a new entrant to digital radio, and also acknowledge the benefits of having service providers as shareholders.
Both applicants (4DG and NGW) bid with ambitious proposals to take digital radio forward. Each applied with a number of new radio stations that would appeal to both new and existing DAB listeners, and further broaden listening choice. A combination of new exciting audio services and new types of data services, will provide reasons for many consumers to look at DAB digital radio for the first time.
Whilst existing operators kicked off DAB in the UK by investing strongly in this new distribution platform, they have been rewarded with prime digital real estate to grow their audiences and revenue. New operators, like Channel 4, with new ideas will help take DAB into a different direction for new audiences and help reinvigorate the platform. It’s good to see these new operators rewarded for their efforts as well.
Northampton is the latest stop on our multiplex journey with a fine line-up and a mystery additional service provider. Ooooooohhhhhh.
When putting together an application you run up against some interesting problems. The main issue is the closing date. It often causes problems with potential partners as if they take part in your bid publicly it might harm a different part of their strategy. We always try and put as much as possible into the public Part A of the document, however when these things pop up we often have to have a confidential Part B with a little more detailed information that only Ofcom sees. In the Part B for Northants we have the identity of the mystery Adult Contemporary provider.
In this application we also have an either/or opportunity too. We’ve made room in our application for XFM. We’ve done this because we’re aware that GCap are rolling out this brand into lots of different areas, we think it’s a great station and would love to have it on our application. If we win, however, we’re unsure whether GCap would want to provide it to us. They might decide that they can only provide extra services like XFM if they win the multiplex themselves. As we’re uncertain what they’re likely to do, we’ve made space available for XFM, but we’ve also got a different ‘youth’ station back-up in place – something we’ve also detailed in our confidential Part B.
As always, we’re very pleased with the line-up and the fact we have a local shareholder in the form of Connect FM owner, Forward Media on board. Through all of our applications we’ve always tried to have local analogue operators on board, as it means they get some of the profit from the multiplex, which reduces the amount of money they have to pay out for the cost of the digital carriage. Often these stations are quite small businesses so it’s important that we can come up with affordable ways for them to broadcast on digital, otherwise they won’t be able to be there, which won’t make DAB as attractive to local listeners.
Big sighs at MuxCo HQ as we’ve just found out that we’ve sadly not been awarded the licence for Herts, Beds and Bucks. It’s instead been awarded to GCap subsidiary NOWdigital. Congratulations to Matt and Nicky at NOWdigital for putting together a winning application.
Succesful or not however, we believe strongly in our model for local multiplexes and that for digital radio to grow and develop that there needs to be a solid opportunity for all broadcasters large and small to take part. We’re very happy with our recent applications for Northeast Wales and West Cheshire and Herefordshire and Worcestershire and we’re working hard to put together great bids for more areas that are being advertised.