Malta Trials HD Radio

Malta is trialing new high definition (HD) DAB+ radio services. Bay HD, Net HD, One HD, and XFM HD have been added to the 12A multiplex, which broadcasts to Malta from a transmitter at Gharghur.

The new services are all broadcasting at a bit rate of 192 kbps in stereo DAB+. The 12A multiplex is also broadcasting BKR NAT HD at a lower bit rate of 128 kbps, along with two other test channels.

The 12A multiplex is the least full of the three multiplexes which broadcast to Malta, and has mostly been used for test and trial services.

Chorley FM Closes and Hand Backs License

Chorley FM, a community radio station for the Chorley area of Lancashire, has closed abruptly, and have handed back their license to Ofcom. No reason has yet been given for the closure.

A police investigation had been launched In March after allegations that a director at the station had been sexually assaulted whilst working at the station. The complainant, Sam Martin, chose to go public after making the complaint to the police.

It is alleged that the board of Chorley FM ignored complaints, instead suspending Sam Martin without pay. She later resigned. The board of Chorley FM had subsequently changed.

Whilst it is not known if the two events are linked, the investigation may have contributed to the stations closure.

North Cotswold Community Radio Appeal for Volunteers

North Cotswold Community Radio, a community radio station based in Chipping Campden, have announced that they are at risk of closure due to a lack of volunteers.

The station launched in 2007, broadcasts online with a variety of programmes specifically for the North Cotswold area. They would like to hear from anyone with an interest in broadcasting on the station, or working behind the scenes.

For details on how to contact the station, see their website at nccr.co.uk.

Bauer Axes Yet More Local Programmes

Bauer have are axing all local programmes on the FM version of Westsound which broadcasts across Dumfries and Galloway. The station will now become entirely networked sharing all programmes with the Bauer City 2/Greatest Hits Radio network.

Meanwhile, Viking FM will move to co-locate with Hallam FM in Sheffield. The soon to be only remaining local show, the breakfast show presented by Alex Duffy and Ellie Brennan, will be broadcast outside of the coverage area from 2nd October.

Bauer have stated the Viking FM move is to allow for access to better equipment and a more vibrant working environment. In reality, the move is to reduce fixed studio locations in order to cut costs and increase profits.

Hallam FM, Viking FM and West Sound fail the criteria for inclusion in the station guide of the website, due to the lack of local content they provide, and being owned by domineering corporation Bauer Media.

Spectrum Radio Network Advertise London Frequency

Spectrum Radio Network have advertised availability on the 1548 MW/AM frequency which covers North London. This frequency is currently occupied by Love Sport, and it is not yet clear what will happen to that station.

Spectrum also have a London wide DAB slot, and two London DAB+ slots available. For those and the MW frequency, Spectrum are offering part time slots, to allow for smaller stations to come on-air for a reduced cost.

For full details visit their website at spectrumradio.net/airtime/.

BCfm Suffers Fire

Bristol community radio station BCfm suffered an unfortunate fire recently, destroying their studio. Although the full cause is not yet known, an electrical fault is the suspected cause.

The station has already recommenced limited broadcasts, and have launched a fundraiser to raise some money towards rebuild costs. Whilst the station does have insurance, it is not yet known how much will be covered.

To donate to the fundraiser go to https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-rebuild-bcfm-after.

Viamux Offer Free Small Scale DAB Workshops

Viamux have partnered with industry website Radio Today to offer free regional small scale DAB workshops.

The sessions will offer guidance on how to set up and run a DAB+ multiplex, as well as advice on writing license applications, funding equipment, and finding partner stations.

A live demonstration of software-defined radio also forms part of the sessions.

The first workshops are:

  • Belfast on Saturday 14th September
  • Edinburgh on Saturday 28th September
  • Newcastle-upon-Tyne on Saturday 5th October​

For more details, visit the Viamux website at www.viamux.com/workshops.html.

Bauer to Face In Depth Investigation

Bauer Media are to face a phase 2 investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority, following their purchase of Lincs FM Group, Celador Radio, UKRD and Wireless’ local stations.

The decision deadline is 21st January 2020, with all stations remaining in hold separate until at least then.

Seperatly, Bauer have confirmed they are axing all local drivetime shows across the stations in England (except Wave 105, CFM, and Gem). The Scottish stations also now have Ofcom authorisation to do the same, although it has yet to be confirmed if a similar move will follow.

Nova Radio and NE1 FM Merge

Online station Nova Radio and community radio station NE1 FM have merged. Nova Radio can now be heard on 102.5 FM across the West of Newcastle, and parts of the Gateshead area.

The exact date of the merge is unclear, but it appears to have taken place in the past 2 weeks. A new website can be found at www.novaradio.co.uk.

The station a variety of programmes lasting 2 hours. In between programmes, news bulletins are aired from Radio News Hub.

Newcastle and Gateshead have four community radio stations. Alongside Nova Radio, there is Asian music station Spice FM, hospital station Radio Tyneside, and LGBT station Pride Radio.

Update: Nova Radio and NE1 FM merged back in June. According to Wikipedia, attempts had been made as far back as February to restructure NE1 FM, which were unsuccessful and led to the merger.

Global Monopoly Expands Again

The dominant monopoly that is Global Radio has expanded its presence on DAB. National duplicates of Capital, Heart and Smooth have been added to the Lincolnshire DAB multiplex and the Hereford and Worcester DAB multiplex.

These services are already available on the D1 national multiplex. Capital UK has a national 80 kbps mono slot, as does Smooth (labelled as Smooth Extra), and Heart has a 32kbps low quality stereo DAB+ slot (labelled as Heart Extra).

The new versions are all in stereo ‘original version’ DAB, with a bit rate of 112kbps, offering slightly better sound quality. These services are exactly the same as the national versions, and do not widen the choice of services available.

Meanwhile, there are rumours circulating on social media that Global are acquiring the Quidem group of radio stations, which broadcast to the Midlands, and include the Touch FM and Banbury Sound brands.