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.

Gold to Return to AM In Peterborough and Northampton

Gold will take over the 1332AM Peterborough and 1557AM Northampton frequencies from Smooth Radio. The change will take place when Connect FM is merged into Smooth Radio’s FM network.

Connect FM was acquired by Communicorp earlier this year, who decided to merge the station into their Smooth East Midlands franchise. As yet, a date for the merge has yet to be announced. Connect FM currently covers Corby, Kettering, and Peterborough.

Meanwhile, Wohnort DAB reports that Connect FM has been relabeled Radio UP on the Herts Beds Bucks local DAB multiplex.

Note: Smooth Radio is almost entirely networked across multiple local and regional licenses, and as such fails the criteria for inclusion on the station guide of this website. Connect FM has not been included due to the plan to merge the station into Smooth Radio. Additionally, Gold fails the criteria, due it being owned by the domineering monopoly corporation of Global.

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.

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.

Heart Extra and Smooth Extra Switch to DAB+

Global Radio has switched Heart Extra and Smooth Extra to DAB+. Both services operate on the D1 National multiplex.

Whilst both stations are now in stereo, a number of listeners will loose access, as many older DAB radios are not compatible with the newer DAB+ format. Heart Extra is using a bit rate of 32 kbps, giving relatively poor audio quality. Smooth Extra is using the slightly higher bit rate of 40 kbps.

This move frees up space on the D1 National multiplex, and will likely fuel rumours of the launch of a new station called Heart Dance.

Cyber Gold Rebrands as Atlantis

Cyber Gold has re-branded as Atlantis. The station has launched on the Suffolk local multiplex (DAB+ at 32 kbps). Atlantis continues on the Surrey and North Sussex local multiplex.

Meanwhile, Cyber Radio has left the Brighton trial small scale multiplex, and Cyber Rock has left the Surrey and North Sussex local multiplex.

Solar Radio Leaves Sky

Soul music station Solar Radio has ceased broadcasting on the Sky satellite television platform. Solar had been available on Sky since September 2000.

The station is redirecting listeners to the variety of online platforms available, including smart phone apps and smart speakers.

The station is also available on DAB+ in Birmingham, Brighton, central London, and Norwich.

More details can be found on their website www.solarradio.com.

Bauer Reduces Local Content

Bauer is to scrap local weekend programmes across the ‘Hits Radio’ network of stations in England and Scotland. Separate programmes will be programmes are to be aired across the local stations in England plus Hits Radio, with a the Scottish stations having their own show.

Meanwhile the number of breakfast shows on Free Radio are to be reduced, with Birmingham, Shropshire and the Black Country sharing a show, while Coventry, Warkwickshire, and Hereford and Worcester will share a show. A single drivetime show is also to be introduced for the whole Free Radio network in the West Midlands.

Hits Radio is also due to get a new breakfast show, although the new line up is yet to be announced.

These changes do not apply to any of the UKRD, Wireless, Lincs FM Group, or Celador stations that Bauer recently acquired.

Update: Radio City, based in Liverpool, is to retain its current local shows on Saturday and Sunday.

Scala Radio Joins Sky

Scala Radio will join the Sky satellite TV platform tomorrow (1st May), and will be available on channel 0216. It is expected that the service will also join the Freesat subscription-free satellite platform.

This move will provide an alternative listening option for those outside of Scala Radio’s DAB coverage. Previously, the service has only been available on DAB, on the SDL National multiplex, with listeners lacking DAB coverage having to rely on smart phone apps and online platforms.

Virgin Radio made a similar move earlier this year, joining both Sky and Feesat.

2BR Ends Ahead of Extension of Capital Manchester

2BR has now ceased broadcasts, ahead of the extension of Capital Manchester to form Capital North West. All programming will now be from Manchester.

Despite the programming sharing, Capital North West will be know as Capital Manchester and Capital Lancashire on air. This is despite the Lancashire part having no local programmes, and the Manchester part only having 3 hours local programmes on weekdays, with no local programmes at the weekend. Both stations will carry a limited amount of local news provision.

On DAB, as Capital Manchester was carried on the Lancashire DAB multiplex, the existing service has been relabeled Capital Lancashire. The 64 kbps mono slot that 2BR occupied is now being used by Gold. Both Capital and Gold are owned by Global.

Note: As both Capital and Gold are owned by Global, who have a monopoly over the commercial radio market, both stations fail the criteria to be included in the Station Guide on this website.

Additionally, Capital North West (Lancashire and Manchester) fails the criteria, as the local licenses it occupies are being used for a near national service.