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.
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.
The RAJAR Q1 2018 audience figures has reported a growth in digital listeners, with 50% of listening done via digital platforms (including DAB, digital TV, and online).
A number of digital only stations have increased in popularity:
- Heart 80s now reaches 1.4 million listeners, but Absolute Radio 80s (with a smaller coverage area) remains the UK’s most popular 80s radio stations with 1.5 million listeners.
- Union Jack now has 114,000 listeners, up from 71,000 year on year.
- Virgin Radio, whilst loosing some listeners, has increased listening hours, meaning its listeners are listening to the station for longer.
- Kisstory, Jazz FM, Smooth Extra, and some other digital only stations have also gained more listeners.
Meanwhile, most BBC national station have remained mostly static, but the Heart network (including Heart 80s, and the Heart Extra national service) now has more listeners than BBC Radio 1.
Editors comments: I’ve actually went the opposite way, switching back to analogue methods, as the poor quality mono sound that most DAB stations provide is not satisfactory. DAB+, whilst stereo, gives even poorer sound quality to the point that listening to some DAB+ stations actually gives me headaches. Forces Radio BFBS (using 24kbps stereo) offers very poor sound quality.
I have now switched back to my local BBC station, BBC Newcastle. Following transmitter changes, I no longer have access to Rathergood Radio on FM, but I still listen to this station via Radio Player.