Digital Radio Boost for Northamptonshire
Today Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, switched on 3 new local DAB digital radio transmitters for Northamptonshire with Northampton Saints rugby legend Paul "Digger" Diggin. The switch on means that 675,000 listeners in the area can now listen to Heart, Capital FM, Gold, Connect FM and BBC Radio Northampton on DAB digital radio for the first time. To receive the new services, listeners with digital radios may have to re-tune their sets. Click here to find out how.
Capital FM will be available for the first time in the area, Connect FM will now reach a county wide audience for the first time and the reception of Gold will be much improved, as previously it has only been available on medium wave.
The switch-on was also marked by a unique collaboration between public and commercial broadcasters, as BBC Radio Northampton, Heart, and Connect FM broadcast live from the Northampton Saints Rugby Club. The Northampton Saints' top of the league clash with Leicester Tigers will be broadcast live on DAB for the first time on BBC Radio Northampton this Saturday.
Broadcast Minister Ed Vaizey said: "Boosting local coverage for Northamptonshire means the excellent range of local DAB digital radio stations can be received by even more listeners, at home and in their car."
Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, who hosted the event, said: "This is great news for 675,000 listeners in Northamptonshire as until now they have not been able receive their favourite local stations on DAB."
The three new transmitters at Geddington, Northampton and Daventry take local digital radio coverage from zero to 97% of households, and bring local DAB digital radio to the area for the first time.
Local road coverage is also improved, adding over 667 km of roads in the area to local DAB coverage for the first time, equivalent to 100% 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.
The proportion of people in the Northampton area listening to digital radio is already one of the highest in the country with listeners enjoying more than 20 additional national stations on digital radio, from commercial radio and the BBC. But until now they have been unable to listen to their favourite local radio stations on DAB. The importance of local radio stations to listeners has been shown in research carried out by the radio industry regulator, Ofcom. You can check which stations you can receive by clicking here.
This switch-on comes as the Government has said they will make a decision on radio switchover later in 2013. 45% of homes in the Northampton area have a DAB digital radio and in Q4 2012 42% of radio listening was digital. In 2012 UK digital radio sales reached the second highest level ever with over 2 million sets sold. A cumulative total of 17 million digital radio sets has been sold to date in the UK, including DAB radios and internet radios.
The radio industry communications campaign featuring digital radio evangelist D Love who encourages everyone to spread the love for digital radio this spring is currently on air on BBC TV, BBC radio and commercial radio.
Paul Eaton, Director of Digital Radio at Arqiva said: "We're delighted to be able to bring these services to digital radio in Northamptonshire. Research has shown how much people value their local radio stations, so we hope this will make a big difference to the digital radio listening experience in the county."
A spokesperson for Global Radio, owners of Heart, Capital FM and Gold, said: "We are committed to extending digital coverage through local transmitters across the UK and today's switch on, which gives 675,000 million listeners access to our stations on DAB, is another important step for our industry."
Jess Rudkin, Managing Editor of BBC Radio Northampton, says: "We are delighted that BBC Radio Northampton will be available to listeners on DAB for the first time, bringing local news and stories to our listener with the digital benefits of easy tuning and scrolling information. We're also really pleased that we'll be able to offer more choice of commentaries on busy match days."
Group Managing Director, Adventure Radio, Mark Jeeves said: "I have been at the forefront of Digital Radio for the last 14 years with the launch of Planet Rock in 1999 so I am delighted that I can now secure Connect FM's future on DAB. These are exciting times for the UK's digital radio market giving more people the chance to listen to new stations that are outside their local FM area."