Digital radio expands in South Wales
Four new DAB digital radio transmitters have been switched on, extending coverage to 250,000 people in the Heads of the South Wales Valleys area. This will enable listeners in the Merthyr Tydfil, Abergavenny, Aberdare and Ebbw Vale areas to receive 34 stations on DAB digital radio, including the BBC national stations BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru on DAB for the first time, together with 7 commercial radio stations including Capital, Heart, Nation Radio, Nation Hits! and Real Radio Wales.
At the same time the frequency of the local radio multiplex will change, so to receive the new services and to continue to receive the available stations, you may have to retune your sets. Find out more about retuning by clicking here.
The switch-on of the new transmitters was welcomed by politicians and broadcasters. Alun Davies, Assembly Member for Blaenau Gwent, says: "I am delighted that listeners in the Heads of the Valleys will now be able to receive the BBC Welsh language station BBC Radio Cymru as well as BBC Radio Wales on DAB for the first time."
Broadcaster Jason Mohammad, who hosts a daily show on BBC Radio Wales and presents Final Score on BBC One, said he was excited about the launch of the new digital transmitters: "It's great news that so many more homes will be able to receive the BBC national stations for Wales on DAB, and now be able to listen to BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru's coverage of sport in Wales and the exciting new season of Premier League football."
This move is part of a wider expansion of DAB digital radio coverage across Wales during the next year. New DAB digital transmitters are planned to be switched on in Wales over the next year bringing local DAB to an additional 400,000 homes and total local DAB coverage to almost 80%. At the end of August, new digital transmitters are planned to be launched in South West Wales, adding a further 150,000 households in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire.
In 2014 plans are underway for a further 150,000 homes in North West Wales to receive the BBC and commercial national stations for Wales for the first time. The new digital transmitters will also bring hundreds of miles of roads across Wales into local DAB coverage.
The DAB digital radio build-out started earlier this year with new transmitters launched in Wrexham in March, bringing over 300,000 people in North East Wales into DAB coverage.
Government is planning to make a decision about a potential radio switchover at the end of the year and this could lead to the building of further digital transmitters to bring local DAB coverage in Wales towards FM equivalence.
Digital radio listening in Wales is already very popular with 44% of adults listening to digital radio every week and 37% of households of having a DAB digital radio, but previously coverage of Welsh National stations has been limited. DAB coverage of BBC UK stations in Wales is currently 85.9%, reaching 1.21 million households in Wales and covering 68.2% of roads in Wales. Across the UK 50% of adults listen to digital radio every week and almost 40% of new cars now come with DAB digital radio as standard (source: Rajar Q1 2013 and CAP/SMMT).
Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, says: "This announcement is great news for radio and great news for Wales. Even more listeners will now be able to enjoy the additional choice of local and national stations on DAB. The investment in DAB coverage will continue beyond this current plan as Wales continues to go digital."
Assembly Member and Minister for Local Government and Government Business Lesley Griffiths, says: "Boosting local coverage for Wales means that the excellent range of DAB digital radio stations can be received by even more local listeners, at home, at work and in their car."
Paul Eaton, Director of Digital Radio at Arqiva, said: "We're delighted to be able to bring these services to digital radio in Wales and this launch will make a big difference to the digital radio listening experience in the Heads of the South Wales Valleys".
Steve Austins, Editor of BBC Radio Wales, says: "We're always looking to improve the way our listeners are able to receive BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru, so I'm delighted that we're now available on digital radio across Wales."