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Sound Digital, the joint venture company formed by broadcast infrastructure specialist Arqiva, Bauer Media and UTV Media in 2014, has revealed its plan to switch on the UK’s second national DAB digital radio multiplex network on February 29th.
The Secretary of State, Rt. Hon John Whittingdale MP, will perform the official switch-on of the new multiplex network built by transmission provider Arqiva at a central London event on Tuesday 1st March. This event will also see the launch of the national Big Retune campaign to encourage listeners to retune their digital radios to access the full range of available stations.
The landmark switch-on paves the way for listeners to access 18 national radio stations, representing a huge increase in choice for the British public. This includes four previously unannounced radio stations, with the UK’s only dedicated children’s radio service Fun Kids, a brand new sister station to the popular Magic brand – Magic Chilled, leading Asian broadcaster Panjab Radio and contemporary Christian music channel Premier Praise all agreeing to join the line-up ahead of the launch.
The confirmed stations, all of which will launch either on February 29th or within a month of this date, are:
talkRADIO, news and current affairs
talkSPORT 2, live sports and sports talk
Virgin Radio, rock and pop music
Share Radio, business and financial news
Mellow Magic, relaxing and melodic music
KISSTORY, old skool dance
Heat, pop music, celebrity gossip and entertainment
Planet Rock, classic rock music
Sunrise Radio, Asian music and speech
Awesome Radio, new British Muslim lifestyle, music and speech
UBC 2, Christian music
Premier Christian Radio, Christian music and speech
Panjab Radio, for British Sikhs and Panjabi speakers
Fun Kids, children’s radio station
Jazz FM, jazz, blues and soul
The announcement follows the award of a second national DAB multiplex licence by Ofcom to Sound Digital in March 2015. The new multiplex will support the continued digital development of radio, with Sound Digital’s line-up of popular and well-loved brands living entirely or predominantly on digital platforms.
UTV Media’s offering includes two original speech stations in talkRADIO and talkSPORT 2, with the media owner also returning the iconic Virgin Radio brand to the British public, under a partnership with the Virgin Group.
Bauer Media will cater to a range of musical tastes with the national launch of quality music stations Mellow Magic and Magic Chilled, as well as the hugely popular stations KISSTORY, heat, Absolute 80s and Planet Rock.
There will also be a range of compelling independent stations to cater for specific areas of interest, including jazz music, financial information, Christian programming, Asian music and children’s programming.
The line-up includes the UK’s first national services delivered via the newer DAB+ standard. DAB+ is more spectrum efficient than existing DAB, enabling more radio stations to be broadcast with the same amount of capacity. Currently, the majority of DAB digital radios will only receive stations using DAB, however many newer DAB digital radios can receive DAB+ channels and, over time, that number will grow organically. Jazz FM, Fun Kids and Magic Chilled will all be delivered using DAB+.
“Today marks a landmark moment for British broadcasting, with confirmation that the biggest expansion in radio choice for a generation is just weeks away,” declared Scott Taunton, Chief Operating Officer, UTV Media plc. “UTV is proud to be broadening the range of speech radio programming through the launch of talkRADIO and talkSPORT 2, as well as reuniting the British public with the iconic Virgin Radio brand.”
Dee Ford, Group Managing Director Radio, Bauer Media, described the launch of the UK’s second national DAB multiplex as “a significant moment” in radio’s digital development. “Bauer is the UK’s leading commercial digital radio broadcaster, and the national launches of Mellow Magic and Magic Chilled, heat Radio, KISSTORY, Absolute 80 and Planet Rock on the new multiplex offer exciting programming to drive consumer take-up.”
Steve Holebrook, Managing Director of Arqiva Terrestrial Broadcast, said: “Since the licence was awarded in March 2015, Arqiva has been working hard building the new national transmission network and we are delighted to have delivered this in record time. We are also pleased to be able to be bringing next generation DAB+ to the market for the first time as well as additional diversity of channels such as Jazz FM, Fun Kids, Asian and Christian channels.”