DAB Changes

As reported yesterday, Ofcom have given permission for Kingdom FM to join the central Scotland DAB multiplex. RadioToday.co.uk are reporting that this has already taken place, but Wohnort DAB are yet to confirm that the station has joined the multiplex. There is yet to be any publicity from the station, therefore it is safe to assume that Kingdom FM is still to be added to the multiplex.

Pure Radio is also due to join the Central Scotland DAB multiplex. This will be a music led service, with a focus on Scottish content, along with local news and travel.

Children’s services are expanding, with Fun Kids Junior joining the North East Wales and West Cheshire multiplex (32 kbps DAB+). Little Radio has launched on the Portsmouth small-scale trial DAB multiplex, also using DAB+ at 32 kbps. This is a new station and is being run by Nation Broadcasting.

Radio UP is replacing Connect FM on DAB only. Details are limited at this stage, but this station is an automated service from Communicorp, and is based from the same building that XS Manchester operates from.

Kingdom FM to Join DAB

Ofcom has given permission for Kingdom FM, Fife’s only local station, to join the Central Scotland DAB multiplex.

As yet, a launch date is yet to be confirmed. Rocksport is also due to leave the DAB multiplex, and Kingdom FM could be a direct replacement.

The Central Scotland DAB multiplex is operated by Wireless Group, and covers the central belt of Scotland, including Fife, Falkirk, Stirling, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Ayr.

Cut Backs at BFBS

Forces radio station BFBS (which identifies on air as Forces Radio BFBS) has removed its Brize Norton version of the station from DAB.

BFBS Brize Norton had held a mono, 80 kbps second slot on the Oxfordshire local DAB multiplex. A reason for the removal is yet to be established, although the FM service continues unchanged.

Meanwhile, BFBS have opted not to take up a license offer from Ofcom for two new community radio services. One was to cover Stafford, whilst the other was to cover Cottesmore and North Luffenham.

BFBS operate a number of radio services aimed at service personnel, both in the UK and overseas. The national version broadcasts on the SDL multiplex in DAB+.

Cumbria DAB Applications Received

Ofcom has received two DAB applications for Cumbria local multiplexes.

Bauer have applied for a license to cover North and West Cumbria. This will consist of BBC Radio Cumbria, and CFM. The rest of capacity will be used to plug coverage gaps for Bauer’s national brands, including Scala Radio, and Absolute Radio 80s. Some capacity will be reserved for future station launches.

Nation Broadcasting has teamed with Muxco for a multiplex covering south Cumbria, and North Lancashire. BBC Radio Cumbria will feature, along with national stations Heart, Smooth, and Capital, which broadcast on FM in the area. Community stations Bay Trust Radio and Cando FM will also be on the multiplex using DAB+, as will digital stations Fun Kids Junior (DAB+) and Chris Country (DAB+).

Nation are also planning to launch a new station Bay Radio, which may appeal to listeners of the original The Bay station which was replaced by Heart following the sale of the station to Global.

No bidders have put forward a proposal for Southwest Scotland, although the North and West Cumbria multiplex may offer some over-spill coverage. Both Nation/Muxco and Bauer have suggested that if successful they can have the multiplexes up and running within 12 months.

Connect FM Binned as Station is to Merge with Smooth East Midlands

National station Smooth Radio will take over Connect FMs frequencies, as Ofcom has given permission for Communicorp to merge the station with the East Midlands version of Smooth Radio.

Although bordering the Smooth Radio coverage area, Connect FM broadcasts via two licenses to Peterborough, Kettering, Corby, and Wellingborough in the East region. An Ofcom consultation received no responses.

The move means that Connect FM will not only rebrand, but will network with Smooth Radio 24/7. There will be no locally produced shows, with the breakfast show being shared with the existing Smooth Radio East Midlands station, and all other output from London.

Smooth Radio East Midlands is owned by Communicorp and operates under franchise from Global Radio, who produce and control most of the output on the station.

Smooth Radio fails the criteria for inclusion on the Station Guide of Scott’s Radio Site, due to the lack of local content on the local licenses the service occupies. Scott’s Radio Site regards Global Radio to be an acquired dominant monopoly, and excludes all of Global’s brands from inclusion on this website.

Quidem Becomes Franchisee

Quidem has agreed a franchise agreement with Global Radio, which will see the loss of the Touch FM, Rugby FM and Banbury Sound brands across the Midlands. It is yet to be confirmed which of Global’s brands will be used, although it seems likely that the Capital brand will be used on at least some of the stations.

As part of the deal, Quidem are moving from Bauer owned First Radio Sales (sales agency for national advertisers), to Global’s in house sales agency. Global will also be proving all news bulletins going forward, with existing news staff being offered a transfer to Global.

The exact number of redundancies is also yet to be confirmed, although this is expected to include 3 presenters and 5 account managers. Quidem is currently loss making.

The deal will not widen choice for listeners, as ‘regionalised’ versions of Global’s main brands Capital, Heart, and Smooth already exist on DAB digital radio in the area covered by Quidem on FM.

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/.

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.

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.