Local DAB now available in Herts, Beds and Bucks
Today, on Valentine's Day at the National Radio Centre in Bletchley Park, Pete Winkelman, Chairman of MK Dons and David Pleat football broadcaster and ex-Luton Town manager, switched on the new local DAB digital radio transmitters for Herts, Beds and Bucks, meaning 1.8 million listeners in the area can receive local DAB stations for the first time. The largest local DAB switch-on in the UK, which was also attended by Iain Stewart MP, enables local listeners to listen to Heart, Capital FM, Gold, MK FM, Connect FM and BBC Three Counties Radio, and comes just two days before the historic FA Cup 6th round matches which will be broadcast on DAB digital radio.
Capital FM and MKFM are available for the first time in the area, and the reception of Gold will be much improved, as previously it has only been available on medium wave. This improvement in local digital coverage is part of a major Government and radio industry investment in building local digital radio coverage across the UK.
The switch-on was also marked by a unique collaboration between public and commercial broadcasters, as BBC Three Counties Radio, Heart, MKFM and Connect FM broadcast live from the National Radio Centre at Bletchley Park on Valentine's Day.
The four new transmitters at Sandy Heath, Epping Green, Zouches Farm and Bow Brickhill take local digital radio coverage from zero to 67.7% of households, and bring local DAB digital radio to the three counties including Luton, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury for the first time. The transmitters at Sandy Heath, Zouches Farm and Bow Brickhill were switched on today, and Epping Green will follow in one week's time.
Local road coverage is also improved, adding over 1,200 km of roads in the area to local DAB coverage for the first time, equivalent to 81.5% of major roads in the area. Digital radios are increasingly becoming available in cars and according to industry data one third of all new cars now has digital radio as standard. One of the major leaders of digital radio in car has been Luton-based firm Vauxhall who are now planning to fit all new Vauxhall models with digital radio, and are offering digital radio adapters for all existing cars via their franchise dealer network.