June Update

We can understand that from the perspective of local listeners, the launch dates of both our and other multiplex operator’s licences have come and gone frustratingly with not much information available about the reasons for these delays.

We would like to offer another (possibly equally frustrating) update to assure you that the radio silence is a result of continued workings behind the scenes and not a result of us wandering off to do something else.

As we have detailed before, since the licence awards there have been a number of changes to the regulatory environment which meant we had to begin a process of reviewing all of our plans. As Ofcom talk about in their latest consultation on DAB Planning, there is significant discussion about the coverage of each multiplex and the potential frequencies they will broadcast on. The aim behind this is to enable multiplexes to better match FM coverage and how to increase power levels that ensure the most robust reception for listeners. Additionally, there is a desire from Government to increase the overall coverage from existing and new multiplexes. All multiplex operators have entered into discussions about how this can be achieved (and paid for). The net benefit of all these discussions will be even better digital radio for listeners.

Getting through these discussions is tough. Multiplex operators, the BBC, the Government and Arqiva are all working together on a plan that will require big changes to their own business plans and transmission arrangements. At the same time, all changes have a knock-on effect to everyone. It’s a large puzzle that lots of people are working on and there are many iterations of the plan each week.

The progress is however good and we’re confident that we can get a result that’s even better for listeners and provides a network and infrastructure that’s attractive and affordable for service providers.

We’ve had a number of, understandably, angry emails suggesting that if we are not going to launch the multiplexes, we should hand the licences back. It is our absolute intention to launch the multiplexes, and the reality is that any new multiplex operator would be in exactly the same position, navigating the discussions with the industry to get the new local plan sorted out. Indeed, Now Digital, who also won some multiplexes in the last round, are in the same position as MuxCo.

From a business perspective, both MuxCo and our partners remain supportive of DAB and are keen to launch. We are comfortable with the financial structure of the multiplexes and that the multiplex will provide affordable and robust coverage for service providers. We also have a number of plans for new services that we are frustrated we cannot currently develop and would like to talk more about!

What we do know, however, is that the discussions taking place are going to put local digital radio in an even better position for listeners and service providers and when we’re in a position to launch, we will.

8 thoughts on “June Update

  1. Paul G

    Bitterly disappointed but there we go , look forward to the lauch in Gloucestershire in 2012, better be safe and not dissapointed , 2013

  2. Mark L

    Many thanks for the update. I as a frequent visitor to this site wait on any snippets of information. Even if this is to hear of the undoubted frustration you have encountered it is better to know that something is happening. When ‘go lives’ of early 2011 are mentioned on the website and it is the end of June it only adds to our frustration. I for one wish you all the luck in your endeavours.

  3. J Peter Wilson

    I have been pleased to read both your Muxco update on the roll-out of local DAB as well as the Ofcom consultation – “An approach to DAB coverage planning”. The Ofcom document appears to give a positive light at the end of the tunnel regarding free-to-air DAB broadcasting in the UK.
    As a native of Yorkshire I am glad to see how your North Yorkshire and Lincolnshire multiplex plans fit in well with the existing Humberside multiplex or should it be re-named the East Yorkshire & North Lincolnshire multiplex! I look forward to seeing the final dates for launch of these multiplexes once the ‘behind the scenes’ negotiations are completed.
    Best wishes to you all.

  4. Tim Balderstone

    Unfortunately the net result of even more delays will be the inevitable loss of listeners for the stations concerned! If you discover DAB offers a better and more reliable listening experience and you have equipment that delivers it more reliably and with greater coverage than the FM signal of your previous “favorite” station you may well be inclined to change to another station. That is happening now, my DAB car radio is proof!

  5. tim webb

    yet again still waiting.just the same in this country always got to wait all the time. so bad about the planning of this.

  6. Peter

    Matt, i think the real danger is that we have been waiting so very long now since the granting of licences in 2007, that there is an air of no confidence in anything ever happening soon or in the future. With several promissed launch dates passed by it’s difficult to get one’s head around what on earth it takes to get anything started? The whole delay saga does seem rather over stretched by Offcom and is just chipping away at the positive drive for full DAB radio coverage.

  7. Stephen

    Any concrete dates yet for the Surrey DAB operation?

    I suspect, that soon, popularly priced radios will be DAB only and therefore FM/AM stations will further miss out.

    Leaving out some reception bands is an easy way of avoiding price-increases!

    Any chance of upping the bitrate for any of the stations. To my ears, with a decent tuner + aerial system FM still has the quality edge! 05.12.2011


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