Radio Industry plans to boost digital signal in capital
London will have a boosted digital radio signal later this year, according to plans announced today by Digital Radio UK (the company tasked with preparing the UK for digital radio upgrade) to increase the digital signal in the Greater London area by installing new transmitters across the capital.
The London upgrade plan is being developed by Digital Radio UK's key stakeholders - the BBC, Commercial Radio, and multiplex operator, Arqiva - and is phase one of a broader UK-wide strategy to accelerate digital take up by extending coverage into those areas where digital services are currently unavailable as well as increasing the strength of existing digital signals.
The area set to benefit from the initial London phase includes all locations within the M25 and will see the capital ready for digital upgrade more than four years ahead of target.
The Digital Economy Bill, currently being debated in Parliament, contains a number of clauses enabling the radio industry to upgrade to digital delivery once two consumer-led criteria have been met.
The plan to improve coverage in London has been developed by Arqiva with the support of the BBC, Digital One, Global Radio, Bauer Media and Absolute Radio. The Digital Radio UK upgrade plans are running in parallel with a BBC programme of digital coverage build out which has already seen the corporation increase its number of digital transmitters from 80 to 155 in the last year. *
Ford Ennals, Chief Executive, Digital Radio UK, said:
"Digital radio boasts a host of benefits for listeners and it is our highest priority to ensure those benefits are universally available before digital switchover happens. The development of a plan to boost the signal in London is the beginning of a process which will see us build coverage and deliver a digital signal to everyone across the UK."
Paul Eaton, Director of Radio, Arqiva, said:
"We are working alongside the BBC and Commercial Radio to increase our network of transmitters to build out coverage in those areas of the UK where signal is currently weak or unavailable. Increasing the signal in London is the first step in this process."
Tim Davie, Director of BBC Audio & Music, said:
"The BBC built a new DAB transmitter on average every week during 2009, and has committed to building out its DAB coverage to 90 per cent of the population by 2012. We are currently finalising plans to complete the final phase of this build out programme, and we hope to complete coverage improvements in the London area by the end of 2010."
Andrew Harrison, Chief Executive, RadioCentre, said:
"Ensuring that digital coverage matches FM is essential if the radio industry is to upgrade to digital. Commercial Radio is delighted to be working alongside the BBC and Arqiva to meet the Government's criteria for extending digital radio coverage in London, as the first step on a journey to full national build out."
About Digital Radio UK
Digital Radio UK is the company tasked with establishing digital as the leading radio format in the UK and ensuring its wide availability and continuing take up among the UK's 46 million radio listeners.
Funded and supported by commercial radio, the BBC and Arqiva, Digital Radio UK is the central industry communicator on digital radio, working closely with all parties with an interest in digital radio, from broadcasters and the car industry to manufacturers and retailers, to deliver the consumer and economic benefits of digital radio upgrade, which include more station choice, better sound quality and greater functionality for radio listeners.
*Note to Editors on BBC Coverage Expansion
Last month the BBC turned on a new transmitter in Oban, providing coverage to the town and the eastern tip of the Isle of Mull (adding around 10,500 people to the coverage of the network). This was the BBC's first transmitter on the west coast of Scotland and will be joined next month by one for Fort William. The BBC also launched a transmitter in Rhondda - providing coverage to the northern end of the Rhondda valley, including Tonypandy, Pentre and Treherbert. This completes the BBC's current expansion in the Welsh valleys with a total of 8 transmitters in the area (adding 250,000 people to the coverage of the network)