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.

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.

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.

Capital Cymru Goes 100% Local

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 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.

Bauer Ditch Big Top 40

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.

Heart Extra Plays Song with Offensive Language

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.