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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.

New Additions

It’s a busy time across our multiplex networks for both short term and long term services.

In Surrey we’ll be adding Radio Marsden Christmas on the 27th November running through to the end of Boxing Day.

In Mid and West Wales we’ll be adding Nation Xmas on the 1st December running until the end of the 27th December. We’re then pleased to be adding Nation Gold as a permanent service to the multiplex from the 28th December.

In Herefordshire and Worcestershire we’ll be adding another new permanent service – Like Radio – from the 14th December.

We have a standard ratecard for ‘RSLs’ – month long licences – on our multiplexes. You can find out more here.

Happy Christmas and Happy Listening!

Surrey Launch Update – 3rd October 2013

We are making good progress with our Surrey Multiplex and still on track for a December launch.  This area does not appear to be subject to the same chronic BT delays as other areas of the UK and it has been a refreshing change to see the project plans covered in green markers not red ones.

The lines to most of the service providers are now in place, with encoders and routers to be installed in November.

The equipment for the transmitter builds is in hand; Crystal Palace antenna work will take place by 14th October with Reigate and Guildford to be completed by the end of October.  Ofcom commissioning will be arranged to take place in November.  Weather becomes an issue for mast work at this time of year so we will be pleased if the current mild conditions continue.

In terms of distribution the network is already in place; London enjoys comprehensive service for telecoms and so the scale of work to connect our ring is immeasurably simpler than in other areas where brand new lines have had to be delivered.

In answer to some queries the second phase of transmitters (Stoke D’Abernon & Hungry Hill) is scheduled to launch in April 2014.

Surrey Launch Update – 12th September 2013

We are on track for our December 2013 launch.

As of  6th September all transmitter sites have been surveyed with the exception of Crystal Palace which is scheduled for this week. Orders for transmitters and telecoms lines  have been placed – delivery time expected to be October but until we have the precise dates we don’t consider this confirmed.

Lots of work underway with both us and our transmission subcontractor in getting in touch with the service providers to establish the readiness of their racks rooms, confirm their site details and contact numbers.

We’ve uploaded some maps which demonstrate the coverage.  Our plan is for the multiplex to broadcast with transmitters at Crystal Palace, Guildford and Reigate with a second phase of Leatherhead and Hungry Hill.

Transmission Map (Launch)

Transmission Map (Final)

Mid & West Wales – countdown to launch…

As you may have noticed if you have DAB and are in the area, we have some test transmissions going out – these are on four channels from two transmitters: Kilvey Hill and Carmel.

We are currently on track to launch at 0001 on Friday 30th August with the seven planned services which will include our third transmitter at Preseli. The formal launch is next Friday (6th Sept).

Launch services are as follows:

  • Radio Pembrokeshire
  • Radio Carmarthenshire
  • Nation Hits
  • Nation Radio
  • Real Radio
  • BBC Wales
  • BBC Cymru

MuxCo Hereford & Worcester Update – 9th July 2013

Work is underway on this multiplex which is expected to go live in September 2013.

For both Ridge Hill and Malvern TX the  transmitters are expected to be delivered this week (8th July).  Electrical installation is scheduled from 12th August with antenna work on the 19th.  Commissioning is scheduled for 26th August and we anticipate these transmitters will be operational in early September.  Bromsgrove will be commissioned from 2nd September, so anticipated operational from mid-September .

Our transmission subcontractor has been undertaking the design work for the contribution network.  Current delays relating to the BT distribution network may affect telecom delivery and so may impact on launch dates.

MuxCo Mid & West Wales Update – 9th July 2013

We are currently looking at an end-August launch although BT main spine distribution delays could impact on this.

The multiplexing software/hardware is scheduled to be commissioned on the 12th August, and the transmission hardware & electrical installation at transmitter sites scheduled for dates in August for all three launch transmitters (Preseli, Carmel & Kilvey Hill). Service provider connectivity is scheduled for early August.

The largest obstacle at the moment is that currently all distribution work by BT is on hold because of serious BT issues with ducts.  Work is planned for the 17th July which may rectify this.  This affects new feeds to the transmitters and in some instances to services too, and although our transmission subcontractor has arranged that commissioning can be undertaken regardless, until this is resolved we won’t have a firm launch date.

MuxCo Gloucestershire Update – 9th July 2013

We are currently looking at an end July/mid-August launch for this multiplex although BT main spine distribution delays could impact on this.

The multiplexing software/hardware is built, and the hardware & electrical installation at transmitter sites is largely in place for our launch transmitters at Churchdown Hill and Stockend Wood.  Connectivity to the multiplex is also largely in place.

The biggest obstacle at the moment is that currently all distribution work by BT is on hold because of serious BT issues with ducts.  Work is planned for the 17th July which may rectify this.  This affects feeds to the transmitters and although our transmission subcontractor has arranged that commissioning can be undertaken regardless, until this is resolved we won’t have a firm launch date.

Some pictures of the equipment are below: