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.

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/.

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.

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.

Minor but Significant Change for Gold London

Gold on the London 1 DAB multiplex has been relabeled to Gold London. The station has also had a bit rate increase to 40 kbps from 32 kbps (still DAB+) to match the new national service.

The changes, although small, are a sign that Gold will remain on the local multiplexes that already carry the station. The bit rate increase suggests that 32 kbps delivers unacceptably poor audio quality for listeners.

Fun Kids Junior Launches in Surrey and South London

Fun Kids have launched a new service aimed at younger children called Fun Kids Junior. The service is available on the Surrey and South London local DAB multiplex.

Programming will be aimed at 6 to 12 year olds, with the launch of the station being promoted on the main Fun Kids service.

The new service is broadcasting using DAB+ at 32kbps. This means relatively poor sound quality, and only newer DAB+ radios can access the station.

Muxco Also Bid for Channel Islands Multiplex

Radio Today are reporting that a total of 3 bids have been submitted for the Channel Islands local DAB multiplex.

Muxco have teamed up with Tindle CI Broadcasting, the owners of Channel 103 in Jersey and Island FM in Guernsey, to bid for license. In addition to Channel 103 and Island FM, UK national stations are to be carried, as well as some new stations. Capacity has been reserved for both BBC Radio Guernsey and BBC Radio Jersey.

Small Digital Planet are a new entrant who propose a total of 16 stations. In addition to BBC Radio Guernsey and BBC Radio Jersey, community station Quay FM will be broadcast, along with 5 new local stations.

These two bids are in addition to the Nation Radio bid already announced. Ofcom will publish full details of the bids in due course.

Nation Broadcasting Announces Channel Islands Bid

Nation Broadcasting, through subsidiary Bailiwick Broadcasting, has announced it has applied for the license to operate the Channel Islands DAB multiplex.

A total of 25 stations are proposed. Based on this, the vast majority of these will be DAB+ services. Capacity has been reserved for both BBC Radio Guernsey and BBC Radio Jersey.

As neither of the national commercial DAB multiplexes are available on the Channel Islands, a number of national services are likely to be carried on the new local multiplex.

Original 106 Launches New Studio

Original 106 opened their new studios on Wednesday, going live at 1.06pm. They now share a building with other parts of the DC Thompson business, having moved from South Aberdeen to Marischal Square, Aberdeen.

Original 106 has also joined the Aberdeen DAB multiplex, broadcasting in mono DAB at 80 kbps. Although mono, unlike stations which have adopted the newer DAB+ format, Original 106 is available on all DAB radios with clear sound quality.

DC Thompson acquired both Original 106 and Kingdom FM earlier this year, and also own Dundee station Wave FM.

Gold to Launch on D1 National

Global Radio’s Gold is to launch on the D1 National DAB multiplex on Monday (10th June). The service is expected to use DAB+, and occupy some of the space vacated when Heart Extra and Smooth Extra switched to DAB+ earlier this week.

Despite some reports suggesting that the service has already gone live, Gold is yet to appear on the D1 National multiplex. Nor is the service returning there, as to my knowledge Gold has never been broadcast on the D1 National multiplex before.

Gold is currently available in some areas on MW (AM) and DAB (normal format, 128 kbps stereo). It is unclear whether the service will stay on these platforms.

It is anticipated that Global will also launch another DAB+ service on the D1 National DAB multiplex. Details of this service have not been revealed.

Note: Gold fails the criteria for inclusion in the station guide, as the service is owned and operated by Global Radio, who are a domineering monopoly. Additionally, the service quality is deemed to be poor, as the majority of the service is automated without an obvious reason or benefit.