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 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.
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.
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.
Capital Cymru has opted to drop networked programmes, and instead provide a 100% local service.
Dafydd Griffith joins the staion to present a new 10am to 2pm show, alongside existing breakfast and afternoon shows presented by Alistair James and Kev Bach respectively. The Big Top 40 will still run, but all other networked shows have been dropped in favour of automated music.
Capital Cymru has additional license requirements in order to providing Welsh language programmes. The station launched as Champion 103 in 1998, and has also operated under the Heart brand.
The new schedule is unusual, as the station is owned by Global, who are currently discarding of most of their local programmes.
Note: As this station is owned by the dominant monopoly Global, Capital Cymru does NOT qualify for a listing within the station guide of this website, despite now being a genuine local station.
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.
Bauer have opted to cease broadcasting the syndicated Big Top 40 Chart show when the contract expires in December. A ‘This Weeks Biggest Hits’ show will be networked from Hits Radio instead. This will likely fuel rumours that Bauer will ditch local station names.
Global Radio, who produce the Big Top 40, have now chosen to withdraw the programme from syndication, affecting smaller stations operated by UKRD, Wireless Group, Quidem, Lincs FM Group and Nation Broadcasting.
From the new year, the Big Top 40 will only be heard on the Capital and Heart networks.
An explicit version of Kendrick Lamar’s song all the stars, found its way into Heart Extra’s automated playlist. The song was played 7 times during automated hours between 9am and 4pm.
The offending track has since been removed from the system, but only after a complaint from a listener. Ofcom have also found Heart Extra in breach of two broadcasting rules.
Heart Extra broadcasts national on DAB, and is owned by dominant broadcaster Global Radio.
Juice 107.2 in Brighton has now ceased broadcasting, as part of launch preparations for Capital FM Brighton (also known as 107.2 Capital FM). Rather than simply rebrand the service, as Global have done previously with other acquisitions, Global have decided to launch a complete new service, only utilising the existing frequency and transmitter.
Capital Brighton will share studios with the local Heart service, rather than use the studios that were acquired with Juice 107.2.
Changes have taken place on the local Sussex DAB multiplex. Capital UK (a stereo simulcast of mono Capital UK service on the D1 National ensemble) has been removed. As Juice was already on DAB, the existing service has been relabelled, and now broadcasts in stereo with a bit rate of 128 kbps.
Test transmissions for Capital FM Brighton are being broadcast on 107.2 FM, DAB, and on-line.
The change of ownership at 2BR has already been covered in a separate post, so here is some of the other stories from the past week:
Juice 107.2 in Brighton is to rebrand as Capital Brighton on the 3rd September. The station will have a complete new presenter line-up, and will take most programmes from the Capital Network in London. All current presenters are assumed to have been made redundant.
Celador have introduced Town 102 to DAB for the first time. The station is broadcasting on the Suffolk local multiplex at 80 kbps mono. Celador have confirmed that Town 102 will continue broadcasting indefinitely.
Meanwhile, Ipswich 102 (also known as Ipswich FM) have commenced test transmissions on the Suffolk local DAB multiplex, ahead of taking over the 102 FM frequency from Town 102 in October. Ipswich 102 is broadcasting at a higher bit rate of 192 kbps in stereo.
A new service has launched on the North East Wales and West Cheshire DAB multiplex. Bliss Radio is broadcasting at 64 kbps in mono. In London, ABN Radio UK has ceased broadcasting on the London 3 multiplex.