Thousands of listeners across the UK are set to enjoy a richer and wider range of local radio programming as Ofcom today (19 July 2021) completes the first round of small-scale DAB awards.

Small-scale DAB is an innovative technology which provides a low-cost way for local commercial, community and specialist music services to take to the digital airwaves.

Following a competitive process, where each applicant was judged against specific criteria, multiplex licences have been awarded for the following areas:

• Alnwick and Morpeth – UK DAB Networks Limited
• Bradford  – Bradford Digital Media Limited
• Exeter – ExeDAB Limited
• Isles of Scilly – Like DAB Limited
• North Birmingham – Switch Radio
• South Birmingham – South Birmingham Digital Radio Limited 

Since February, Ofcom has planned the airwaves and awarded small-scale DAB licences in 25 areas across the UK. With the first round of awards now complete, these licences have the potential to allow the launch of over 500 new local radio stations.

Some of the hundreds of new stations set to launch on small-scale DAB are existing analogue community and small commercial radio services. Many others will be completely new – ranging from grass-roots community services to boutique specialist music stations, and services aimed at minority groups and other under-served audiences.
Ofcom will award further small-scale DAB licences in the North West of England and North East Wales later this year.

Kevin Bakhurst, Ofcom’s Group Director, Broadcasting and Online Content said: “The rollout of this innovative technology will give listeners across the UK an unprecedented choice of locally produced content – serving communities and audiences across the country in a way never seen before. The UK’s commercial and community radio industry continues to go from strength.”

Stations launching in Newcastle and Gateshead
In Newcastle and Gateshead, Tyneside Community Digital (TCD) will provide four local analogue community radio stations (Radio Tyneside, Nova Radio, LGBQ station Pride FM, and Asian service Spice FM) all of which will be able to broadcast via DAB for the first time.

The line-up is also set to include a new North East-based dance music station, Frisk Radio; Hindu FM, a Newcastle-based faith based station aimed at the Hindu community; Anxious Minds Radio, a North East-based station raising awareness of mental health and providing self-help tools for its listeners; and Toon FM, providing news and discussion about all-things Newcastle United.

Richard Finch, one of TCD’s directors said: “Our application had been over a year’s hard work which involved existing FM community radio stations and a whole batch of new channels – most of which are in our locality. DAB radio has been embraced by listeners and it’s now the biggest platform that people tune to.”

“The service isn’t just about channels that already exist – we will be bringing new services to air including country music, podcasts, dance music and nostalgia. Most of these stations have never been on broadcast radio on Tyneside before.”

Stations launching in Sheffield and Rotherham
The Sheffield and Rotherham licence was awarded to Shefcast Digital, a consortium of local community radio broadcasters Sheffield Live!, Link FM and Redroad FM.

Planned new services on the multiplex include Forge Radio (student radio from the University of Sheffield Students’ Union); Radio ADP (music and talk radio for Sheffield with a focus on the African diaspora community); It’s Folk Radio (folk music channel from Sheffield); and Mondo Radio (a Sheffield-based underground electronica music station).

Chair of Shefcast Digital, Steve Buckley, said: “Small-scale DAB in Sheffield and Rotherham will increase listener choice, respond to local interests and bring a range and diversity of new local, community and specialist services. For the many loyal listeners to our FM community radio stations it will also mean their favourite channel is finally available on DAB.”

Sangita Basudev, Chief Executive of Sheffield Live!, added: “Since we started as the first licensed community radio station in Sheffield we have always supported the aspirations of others to develop the local and community radio landscape. Through our social enterprise support scheme we are now working with local internet radio stations such as Rother Radio and Gumbo FM to bring them onto DAB, as well as creating some new services of our own.”

Stations launching in Dudley and Stourbridge
In Dudley & Stourbridge, a small-scale multiplex has been awarded to local company, DigiMux. Planned services include Radio India Dudley; Gorgeous FM, an LGBT+ station for Birmingham and the Black Country; and the chill-out station Skylab Radio.

DigiMux technical director, Nigel Ball, said: “The small-scale Dudley & Stourbridge licence will allow stations that are currently online only to broadcast terrestrially for the first time.”

Dave Brownhill, a director of Waterfront Media, which runs the local community radio station Black Country Radio said “We are delighted that DigiMux Ltd have been granted this licence by Ofcom. As a partner in this initiative, it means that Black Country Radio, alongside our new offering Black Country Xtra, will be available on DAB across the Black Country in the coming months.”

Read Ofcom’s press release here.

Digital Radio UK has launched the first industry campaign dedicated to communicating the benefits of DAB+. The new campaign, which is themed ‘Don’t miss a thing with DAB+’, will be broadcast across participating commercial radio stations, and supported by social media activity, from Monday 28 June for four week..

The campaign highlights that DAB+ is an upgrade for digital radio which provides access to even more great stations, bringing listeners familiar favourites alongside a host of new stations to discover. The 40” radio spot encourages listeners who are considering buying a new radio to upgrade to a DAB+ digital radio and to look for the Digital Tick Mark to ensure their new device will receive all the available DAB and DAB+ stations.

DAB+ is a newer and more spectrum efficient form of DAB which enables more radio stations to be broadcast within the same amount of capacity, and is now widely used in broadcasting national and local commercial digital stations and small-scale DAB stations across the UK. With the planned launch of GB News Radio broadcasting in DAB+ on the national Digital One network, there will be 26 national DAB+ stations, 60 DAB+ stations in parts of London, and including those on small-scale DAB multiplexes, collectively a total of more than 180 DAB+ stations in the UK.

Recent consumer research commissioned by Digital Radio UK indicates that despite the number of DAB+ stations now on-air, consumer awareness and understanding of DAB+ and its benefits is low. Currently, although the majority of new digital radios available at retail are DAB+ compatible, industry estimates that only 30-40% of DAB digital radios in homes will receive DAB+ stations, highlighting the need to communicate that there are now many stations available that can only be heard with a DAB+ compatible radio, or by listening online or on a smart speaker.  DAB digital radios fitted in new cars typically are all DAB+ compatible.

Digital Radio UK CEO, Ford Ennals, said: “DAB+ is playing an important role in the expansion of digital radio in the UK and with the number and quality of DAB+ stations higher than ever and increasing, now is an appropriate time to start raising listener awareness and understanding about the benefits of DAB+ to ensure they are not missing out.”

The campaign launches on air this week across participating commercial stations and will play for four weeks, supported by social media activity in London where there are over 60 stations available in DAB+.

Digital Radio UK’s summer communications programme also features new creative supporting in-car digital radio upgrade.  As many of us will be in our cars making long journeys for staycations, or local day trips, rather than holidaying aboard this summer, the campaign encourages listeners to ensure they have the perfect driving soundtrack by upgrading to digital radio in car – either with a DAB replacement radio/adapter or integrating their smartphone.

The on air campaign was produced by Fresh Air Productions and voiced by Vicki Blight. The social media assets were created by Heart and Minds and Paul Collins-Reddin.

Digital Radio UK’s on air industry campaigns are available for all stations to play. For further information or to receive the ads, please contact [email protected].

RAJAR has today released audience research for the Quarter ended March 2012 and its great to see further strong growth in digital radio listening.

Key headlines for RAJAR are:

  • 45% of the population has tuned in via any Digital platform
  • 22.1 million adults have access to a DAB receiver up 12% year on year
  • For the first time there has been more than 200 million hours recorded for DAB listening

Listening to radio via a digital platform in terms of weekly reach has increased by 5% year on year, with 23.5 million people now tuning in to radio via a digitally enabled receiver (DAB, DTV, internet) each week (up  from 22.3 million in Q1 2011).

The share of all radio listening via a digital platform is now 29.2% (against 26.5% in 2011), with DAB’s share increasing by 15% to 19.1% of all listening (16.7% in 2011).

The share of all listening through DTV is now 4.4%, with Internet’s share at 3.9%.

Further information on RAJAR and digital radio listening is available at

For technical reasons, from 10 April you may be required to re-tune your digital radio so you can continue to receive the following stations: Capital, Heart. Choice, XFM, LBC and Kiss.

You may see the station name on your radio change to “Station Moved” or “Moved. Once you have re-tuned your radio, if you see the station name listed with a “?” after it, ignore that entry – chose the entry that doesn’t have a question mark after it.

If you have saved these stations on your “preset” function on your radio, you may need to save those again too.

For all DAB digital radios at your home or in your car, refer to the instructions for your particular product on how you re-tune, delete old station labels and reset your presets.

Re-tuning your digital radio

It is recommended that you re-tune your digital radio from time to time (every few months) to ensure you can receive new stations that have come on air in your area. It is also recommended that you regularly reset any presets you have saved on your digital radio.

Most digital radios can be re-tuned using the following simple instructions:

Press the Auto-Tune or Auto Scan button on your digital radio. It may take a couple of minutes for your radio to update the station list.

However, not all digital radios re-tune in the same way. The instructions below cover some other options.


1. Press the Auto Tune or Auto Scan button on your digital radio
2. The display screen will show ‘Autotune Quick scan’ / ‘Fast Scanning’
3. As new stations are found the station counter on the right hand side of the display will increase and new stations will be added to the list
4. This should only take a couple of minutes
5. Simply scroll through the display to find the stations available to you


1. Press ‘Menu’ button on your digital radio
2. Rotate the ‘Tune’ button until you see ‘Autotune’ in the display 3. Select ‘Autotune’
4. As new stations are found the station counter on the right hand side of the display will increase and new stations will be added to the list
5. This should only take a couple of minutes
6. Simply scroll through the display to find the stations available to you

Deleting the old “station label”

Some radios will keep the “station label” in the station list which may have a “?” after it. If you want to delete this from the list, please follow the instructions below:

1. Switch on your radio
2. Press and hold the ‘Select’ or the ‘Info’ button on your radio until the display shows ‘System reset’ or ‘Factory reset’


Press and hold the ‘Menu’ button for three seconds. Push the ‘Tune’ button within 3 seconds to confirm the reset.

3. A full reset will be performed and your station list will be updated.
4. Please note that any presets will be erased, so you will need to reset them.

For more information, the user should contact their manufacturer or refer to the instruction booklet.

How to use your presets

Resetting your radio (as above) may result in your radio losing its presets. If you want to restore your presets, please following the instructions below:

1. Select your favourite digital radio station on the station list.
2. Hold down the suitable preset button for 5 seconds
3. Release preset button

For re-tuning or resetting instructions for your digital radio, please see the following links to manufacturer/retailer sites:


Switchdigital London has announced plans to change transmission provider from June 2012 and extend multiplex coverage.

Switchdigital has agreed a 12-year deal with French company VDL, which will see the service through its second licence period to 2024.

The deal includes a new transmitter at the BT Tower which is expected to improve indoor reception of the stations on the multiplex for DAB listeners in Central London.

Switchdigital is jointly owned by UTV Media, TIML (owners of Absolute Radio) and Carphone Warehouse. The contract will mark VDL’s first move into the UK digital radio transmission market.

Piers Collins, Director, Switchdigital London, said: “We have been very impressed with VDL’s fresh approach, value for money and desire to work with Switchdigital as a strategic partner.”

Yannick Andre-Masse, VDL’s CEO added: “For VDL, the establishment of a presence in the UK digital radio transmission market represents an important strategic extension of the company’s existing FM and digital transmission network operations in France and Belgium.”

The London 2 DAB multiplex was launched in July 2000.  Current stations available include XFM, Gold, BBC London 94.9, Absolute Radio’s 70s and 00s decades stations and French Radio London.

* Arqiva agrees deal to acquire Global Radio’s stake in Digital One
* Secures future of the platform and strengthens DAB
* Includes ownership of Global’s local digital radio multiplexes

Arqiva has today announced that it has agreed terms with Global Radio to enable it to acquire Global’s 63% share in the commercial DAB multiplex Digital One.  The UK national platform carries Classic FM, talkSPORT, Absolute Radio and Planet Rock.  Previously a 37% stakeholder, Arqiva will be taking full ownership and will also take ownership of Now Digital, the company which operates Global Radio’s local digital radio multiplexes.  Global Radio will continue to broadcast stations on the multiplexes, including Classic FM on Digital One.

Paul Eaton, director of radio at Arqiva, added: “Digital One has always played a leading role in the development of DAB and in stimulating the market for DAB receivers in the UK.  As an independent operator, Arqiva is in a good position to realise the full potential of the multiplex and encourage new services to launch on the DAB digital radio platform.  We believe in the long-term future of DAB, and this deal with Global extends both of our companies’ commitments to digital radio well into the future.”

Digital One was awarded the sole UK national multiplex licence for DAB digital radio in 1998 and started broadcasting in November 1999 under a renewable 12-year licence.  There are now in excess of 120 Arqiva transmitters covering over 90% of the UK population.  Together with the BBC, Digital One is a major stakeholder in the Digital Radio Development Bureau (DRDB), which is also supported by other commercial radio companies.  Representatives from Digital One also work with the WorldDMB Forum to promote the medium internationally.

Podcast Rex