Government removes barriers to radio stations going digital

In new measures announced today, the Government will make it easier for smaller community and commercial radio stations to broadcast on small scale digital radio multiplexes.

With more than 50% of all radio listening in the UK now on digital, the new lighter touch licensing regime means these small stations won’t be left behind by the growing shift from FM and AM to digital radio and will give more choice to millions of radio listeners across the UK.

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said:

We are breaking down one of the main barriers in the transition of radio from analogue to digital, to secure long-term benefits for the UK’s smaller commercial and community stations and ensure a range of local content for listeners.

No one should be left behind by technological advances, so as part of our modern Industrial Strategy we will give small and local radio businesses affordable, practical access to digital radio networks to reach new and longstanding audiences.

The roll out of small scale multiplexes across the UK could help more than 450 existing small community or commercial radio stations go digital.

Since 2014, Ofcom have been supporting successful trials of small scale radio multiplexes in ten areas of the UK. These trial multiplexes now carry around 160 small radio services offering listeners in these areas a broader range of content and formats.

To put these small scale services on a proper long-term footing, the Government is revising the current legal framework for licensing radio multiplexes – originally drawn up in the mid-1990s.

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