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OfCom opens bidding for second national DAB digital radio network

By | Published on Wednesday 2 July 2014


UK media regulator OfCom has announced it is welcoming bids to run a second national DAB digital radio multiplex, to sit alongside the existing Digital One network, and all the local digital radio platforms that already operate.

It’s not the first time a second national digital radio multiplex has been considered, of course, Channel 4 having spent an awful lot of time and money failing to launch its planned digital radio network back in 2007/8, before handing the licence to run the platform back to OfCom.

Whether a second digital radio network will result in a batch of new digital-only stations being launched, or in reality will provide a national digital channel for various existing radio services only currently on FM and/or local DAB, remains to be seen. Despite the growth in DAB listening, making a standalone digital-only station profitable still seems to be quite a challenge.

But culture minister Ed Vaizey reckons more DAB slots are definitely required, telling reporters yesterday: “We want people to be able to choose from the widest choice of national commercial radio stations, like Classic FM. But that isn’t possible at the moment, because our current national commercial multiplex is full. To address that, Ofcom will offer the licence to build and run a second national commercial multiplex”.

Commercial radio trade body RadioCentre welcomed the announcement, with CEO Siobhan Kenny saying: “More commercial stations are good for listeners in a growing radio advertising market”.

Meanwhile the motoring industry, which is increasingly putting DAB receivers into new cars, also welcomed the news, with Mike Hawes, CEO of Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, saying: “Drivers are taking to digital radio in ever greater numbers. Over half of all new cars sold now come with digital radio as standard and, with a range of affordable after-market products now available, all drivers will be able to enjoy the wider range of stations now available on this ever-expanding network”.

If you fancy bidding to run Digital Two, get yourself to this link.