Hundreds of new local digital radio stations could start broadcasting in the UK from 2020, under proposals outlined by broadcast regulator Ofcom.
With over 40 per cent of the UK’s radio listening now taking place on the Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) platform, Ofcom’s proposals mark a major step towards expanding local DAB coverage, giving listeners an even wider choice of new digital radio stations.
Small-scale DAB is cutting edge technology, pioneered in the UK by an Ofcom engineer. It provides local commercial, community and specialist music stations with a low-cost route to hitting the digital airwaves.
By using freely available software and computer technology to transmit digital radio services, small-scale DAB enables stations to broadcast to a relatively small geographic area.
To make the best use of valuable spectrum and give existing and new local stations the opportunity to broadcast digitally, Ofcom is allocating airwaves previously occupied by business radio.
“People increasingly prefer digital radio, and by enabling smaller stations to join this digital revolution, we can broaden the choice for local listeners up and down the country,” suggested Graham Plumb, Ofcom’s Director of Spectrum Broadcasting.
Following successful trials, Ofcom is now consulting on how it would implement Government legislation to create a framework for the licensing of small-scale DAB radio on a permanent basis.
It would like to hear from interested parties by October 4th and intends to start advertising licences early in 2020.