United Kingdom

Last update: 20.05.2022 - older versions

Rajar listening data published on 19 May 2022 confirmed the predominance of digital radio platforms in the United Kingdom 
  • Digital listening share increased to a new record of 67.9%, up from 64.5% in Q4 2021, boosted by the growth of online listening including via smart speakers.

  • Digital reach is also at a new record with 42 million adults, or 75% of the population, tuning in via a digital platform each week, up from 40 million or 72% in Q4 2021.

  • Digital platforms now account for 72% of all commercial radio listening and 65% of all BBC radio listening.

  • Listening via DAB remains the most popular platform for radio listening, accounting for 41% of all listening and 60% of digital listening while listening via DTV accounts for 4.5% of all listening and 7% of digital listening.  Listening via analogue platforms now accounts for under a third (32%) of all radio listening.

  • Digital listening in home increased to 72%, up from 69% quarter on quarter, and digital listening in car increased to 54%, up from 51% quarter on quarter.

Small-scale DAB

The Ofcom small-scale programme is extensive and will potentially see the launch of up to 200 small-scale multiplexes throughout the UK over an extended period of 10 years.

The first small scale DAB multiplex launched on 10 December 2021, after several years of trials. The multiplex, managed and operated by Teesside firm MUX ONE, was launched in Tynemouth and South Shields in the north east of England, and sees 13 stations launched with more to follow in the coming months.

In a second round of licensing, Ofcom has awarded 17 new small scale multiplex licences, taking the total to 42. It has also published a review of its first two rounds of licensing.

Ofcom small-scale licensing roll-out timetable:

  • September 2020: Round One licences advertised
  • July 2021: Completion of Round One licence awards
  • August 2022 - January 2023: Deadline for Round One multiplex launches
  • June 2021: Round Two licences advertised (North west England and north east Wales ‘macro area’)
  • May 2022: Round Two licences awarded
  • November 2023: Deadline for Round Two multiplex launche
  • January 2022: Round Three licences advertised
  • Autumn 2022: Round Four licences advertised

Last update: 26.04.2021 - older versions

Current UK population coverage is: 

  • 98% for national BBC stations
  • 91.5% for national commercial stations. National commercial stations launched across Northern Ireland for the first time in summer 2013
  • 91% local DAB coverage

DAB coverage expansion

  • A major two-year programme of DAB coverage build out has completed and included doubling the number of local DAB transmitters (around 200 new transmitters) to get local DAB to FM equivalence, over 162 new transmitters for the BBC national network to expand it from 95% population coverage to 97%, and more transmitters for the national commercial network, Digital One.
  • The launch of 435 new national and local DAB transmitters bring 10 million more adults into coverage for local DAB stations and 1.5 million more adults into coverage for BBC national DAB stations.
  • This build-out programme focused on the UK’s major road network and the local DAB expansion alone brings 7,000 kilometres of the UK road network into coverage for local DAB stations and 2,300 kilometres of roads for the BBC national DAB stations.
  • As the new digital transmitters became operational Digital Radio UK updated the consumer facing postcode checker on the Digital Radio UK website

Second National DAB Multiplex - Digital Two

UK media regulator Ofcom accepted the Sound Digital consortium's bid to run the new Digital Two national commercial DAB network. The consortium is made up of Bauer Media Group, UTV Media and Arqiva (who own and run Digital One). The second national DAB digital radio multiplex sits alongside the existing Digital One network, and all the local digital radio platforms that currently operate. Digital Two features an additional 15-18 new DAB stations with potentially up to 30% of the network using DAB+. The new digital-only stations launched in early 2016. The launch of the new digital radio stations and the Digital Two network will significantly increase demand for DAB digital radios.

Last update: 10.03.2021 - older versions

In this country there are

on air.

Please note:

(a)    These web pages are updated regularly to reflect current services on air, however they may not be exactly up to date.

(b)    The logos shown on these pages are for illustrative purposes only – manufacturers and broadcasters are directed here for information on implementing station logos.

Total number of DAB/DAB+ services on air
1.            DAB simulcast 335
2.            DAB exclusive 160
3.            DAB+ simulcast 9
4.            DAB+ exclusive 47

Additionally, approx. 122 local DAB and DAB+ stations are operating as part of Ofcom’s small-scale DAB mini-muxes trial in 10 cities.

 

 

 

Simulcast on AM / FM Exclusive on digital Total of services
DAB programmes 335 160 495
DAB+ programmes 9 47 56
Total344207551

Last update: 28.10.2021 - older versions

EECC implementation

Following the launch of a consultation on behalf of the Department for Transport, in August 2020 the necessary legal regulations were approved by Parliament to support the mandating of the fitment of digital radio in passenger vehicles in the UK.

The Road Vehicles (Approval) Regulations 2020 were laid before  Parliament on 7th August 2020 and the Order comes into force on 1st September 2020.

This implements the provisions in Article 113 of EU Directive 2018/1972 (the European Electronic Communications Code (“EECC”)) covering the compulsory fitment of digital radio in passenger vehicles, meaning cars and buses (see regulation 22). The requirement comes into effect from 21 December 2020. 

More information is available here

Service Following

Arqiva, Global Radio, Bauer and Digital Radio UK have pioneered the launch of service following in the UK. Service following is part of the Digital Radio Tick Mark minimum specifications and is present for Global Radio on all ensembles carrying Global's services – Capital, Heart, XFM, Gold and Classic FM, and for Bauer on all ensembles carrying Hits Radio. This offers drivers an uninterrupted listening experience as they move out of one ensemble carrying these services and into another. DRUK and broadcasters have specified a test route for anyone wishing to test service following on receivers and for  more information on this or the Tick Mark, contact Yvette Dore, Communications Director, Digital Radio UK at yvette.dore@digitalradiouk.com

AA Member Research: digital radio satisfaction high in car

  • The AA fielded a piece of online research into digital radio in cars and received a creditable 29,000 responses.
  • The survey found that 91% of drivers listen to broadcast radio in their car, 22% of all drivers have digital radio in their car and 86% of drivers were highly satisfied with their digital radio.
  • Most drivers without digital radio were not considering buying an adapter but were either waiting to buy a new car or for the switch-off of the FM services.
  • There is clear price resistance to buying car adapters. 53% of drivers without digital radio would consider buying a car adapter, but only if the price was under £100. 4% would pay over £100 and 43% would not buy an adapter.
  • 51% of drivers were aware of radio switchover. Internal research conducted by broadcasters indicates that most people think radio switchover will happen in the next 5-10 years.
  • The research confirms the high level of consumer satisfaction with digital radio in cars and highlights the importance of having more affordable adapters available.

Last update: 28.10.2021 - older versions

Digital radios are available through a large number of high street and online retails at varying price points of GBP20 upwards. A variety of digital radios can be viewed on the Digital Radio UK website.

DIGITAL RADIO TICK MARK

In June 2014 Digital Radio UK launched the Government/Industry Digital Radio Tick Mark. The ”Tick Mark” managed by Digital Radio UK on behalf of industry, provides consumers with certainty and reassurance that the products and services that they are buying are future-ready and will enable them to receive the available DAB, DAB+ and FM radio stations. From a supply chain perspective, the Tick Mark ensures a specified quality and functionality threshold and will likely drive sales in the UK. 

The Tick Mark is relevant for both the domestic (home) and in-vehicle markets. In order to be granted use of the Tick Mark, manufacturers and installers must meet specific criteria. In terms of the in-vehicle market, for example, service following and traffic announcements are included as part of the minimum specification. For all information on the Tick Markplease see here:www.getdigitalradio.com/industry.

The full list of Tick Mark approved products and services can be found at http://www.getdigitalradio.com/industry/approved-products-services/approved-dab-receiver/ 

 

 

Last update: 31.07.2018 - older versions

In 2014 the BBC announced that they carried out a technical trial for DAB+ in Scotland.

Small-scale low cost DAB

The UK has several hundred small-scale FM and AM stations.  While the existing DAB infrastructure is suitable for larger stations, the wide area coverage and relatively high costs of the existing country-wide structure are not suited to the needs of small-scale broadcasters.  Following an initial trial carried out in Brighton during 2012/13, Ofcom was granted funding by the UK Department for Culture Media and Sport to test the technical scope for small-scale low cost DAB. 60 stations are now broadcasting on digital radio for the first time using 'small scale DAB'. 

Ofcom is currently running DAB technical trials in ten areas across the UK. The first small scale digital radio took to the air in Brighton in July 2015 with the UK’s first local DAB multiplex. According to Ofcom, if the trials are successful, UK listeners could benefit from hundreds more local and community radio stations on digital radio in the future.

The trials bring radio listeners a range of small and local stations on DAB digital radio for the first time. Funded by the UK government, it is hoped that this new approach could provide an affordable route for smaller stations to broadcast on DAB digital radio.

The first trial launched in Brighton and Hove at the end of July 2015 and the remaining eight launched shortly after. They were originally to broadcast for a nine month period and then Ofcom worked with Government to decide the next steps and the trial were extended for two years.

The areas to benefit from the ten licences are Portsmouth, Brighton and Hove, Aldershot, Bristol, Norfolk, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, London and Cambridge, bringing no less than 60 new DAB stations offering a wide variety of services including small local, community and student stations.

Please find below a list of stations available in each of the trial areas:

Portsmouth
ANGELxtra, Express FM, JAMM Radio, Mango Vibe, The Flash and Triple Hits 

Aldershot
BFBS Radio, BFBS Gurkha, Radio Woking and The Breeze 

Brighton & Hove 
Radio, bringing Juice 107.2, Radio Reverb, Smile Sussex, Totallyradio, Resonance and Brighton City Student Radio

Bristol
Hub Radio, BFBS Gurkha, Ujima Radio, BSR 103.4fm, BCfm 93.2, Somer Valley Radio, The Breeze and BFBS Radio 

Norfolk
Future Radio, Norwich 99.9, The Music Machine, Solar Radio, Jazz FM, Totallyradio and Future Plus 

Manchester 
Panjab Radio, Revolution 96.2, Manchester Business Radio, The Steve Penk Wind-Up Channel, Chris Country and Gaydio 

Birmingham
Switch Radio, bringing Switch Radio, Scratch Radio, Gaydio, Oak FM and Touch FM 

Glasgow
Your Radio, Celtic Music Radio, Pulse FM and Go Radio 

London
Resonance, London Greek Radio, Rinse FM, NuSound Radio, Reprezent, Solar Radio and Crackers Radio

Cambridge
Star Radio, Gaydio, Chris Country, Core Radio and Cambridge 105 

Small scale DAB expansion

  • There are currently over 90 (see image right) small commercial and community stations broadcasting in the 10 trial areas of the Ofcom small-scale DAB trials which have been extended by 2 years.
  • Angel Radio announced a further expansion to the number of stations on the Portsmouth DAB Mini-mux to 18 with more than half of the stations (10) broadcasting in DAB+. There are 15 stations broadcasting in the Manchester trial and Niocast have a waiting list and are planning to launch additional services.
  • DCMS are progressing plans for a new licencing framework to support the extension of the existing trials and expansion to other areas across the UK.
Small-scale DAB licencing consultation 

In January 2018, DCMS published the small-scale DAB consultation document (consultation document here), accompanied by a press release headed ‘Government to help commercial and community radio to go digital.’ (press release here). 

The press release highlights the progress made by digital radio and the opportunity offered by small-scale technology to enable hundreds of local commercial and community stations to broadcast on DAB for the first time.

The consultation ran for 8 weeks from 4 January to 28 February 2018 and covered 12 key questions relating to community stations and digital licences, ownership of small scale radio multiplexes, the size of the multiplex area, the duration of the licences, BBC access to small-scale DAB and Ofcom’s duty to consider local commercial impacts on local multiplexes.

DCMS have said that their aim is to have new licensing arrangements in place by the end of the year. It is likely that during this period they will take measures to extend the existing trial area small-scale multiplexes whose licences expire in the first half of 2018.

In July 2018 Ofcom announced that they would be taking expressions of interest from people wanting to operate small-scale DAB multiplexes and radio stations wanting to broadcast on them in the future.  The closing date for the submission of expressions of interest is 21 September 2018.

Last update: 06.05.2022 - older versions

Digital Radio and Audio review

The Digital Radio and Audio Review was commissioned by the government in February 2020 with the objective of assessing likely future trends in listening and to make recommendations on ways of strengthening UK radio and audio. Its report was published in October 2021, and describes sector commitments and options for future government support.

The UK government's response to the review was published in April 2022, and focuses on the recommendations for specific government action. Digital Radio UK summarises the response 

Digital Radio UK's summary of the response in relation to DAB is available here.

 

Digital Radio Switchover

In its response, the government agreed with the Digital Radio and Audio Review's main conclusion that there should be no formal switch-off of analogue radio services before 2030 at the earliest, and notes that the ongoing decline of analogue listening makes it appropriate to consider updating elements of the legislative framework to support a smooth transition of services away from analogue in due course. Government also agreed that government and industry should look at this again in 2026.

 

Small-scale DAB

Ofcom reinforce that the primary focus of the programme is to enable community stations , small commercial stations and new entrants to have an affordable pathway to terrestrial digital radio. That is the priority for the use of available DAB spectrum but Ofcom have said that later in the programme they will consider the requirement and opportunity for additional local DAB  multiplexes where there is evidence of demand and spectrum availability . The criteria Ofcom have set for the small scale multiplexes and their services is the consumer benefits of social gain, and local community accountability and participation. Ofcom have confirmed that to be eligible for the new Community Digital Social Programme ( C-DSP) licenses the services will have to have studios based in the coverage area .They have stipulated a minimum of three C-DSP services on each multiplex to be community radio stations . Ofcom decided to maintain their position that coverage of the small-scale multiplexes should not exceed 40% of the population of the given area.

Last update: 13.07.2020 - older versions

2020 campaign

Digital Radio UK, the organisation charged with overseeing the promotion of digital radio in the UK, launched a major campaign in summer 2020 called 'Radio's Digital Revolution'.  The campaign is aimed at helping retailers and manufacturers communicate to consumers and listeners  about digital radio.  

2018 campaigns

Ads have been playing across commercial stations since the end of May, with trails also playing across BBC national and local stations for two weeks in June. The campaign has highlighted offers on DAB digital radios at UK retailers, promoted the summer’s great sports and music content, and communicated the many ways to listen to digital radio including smartphone and voice-controlled speaker.

Northern Ireland promotion

Digital Radio UK is partnering with broadcasters and retailers in Northern Ireland to run a coordinated promotional campaign for digital radio including converting cars to digital. The campaign will focus on localised communications, including on-air ads, competitions and editorial; as well as retail point-of-sale. The project is based on the recent Surrey Car Conversion Pilot and will focus on digital radio devices for the home and car.

2017 Christmas campaign

Digital Radio UK worked with the BBC to create the campaign which is focused on gifting and recalls the familiar poem ‘T’was the night before Christmas’ to reveal a ‘world of digital radio lay under the tree’. The campaign highlights the many ways to give the gift of digital radio such as connected and voice-controlled speakers, as well as a DAB digital radio, and the commercial activity also includes an in-car gifting message.  This phase of the campaign will play on commercial stations from 4 – 24 December, and across BBC stations from 11 – 24 December 2017. Listen to the campaign here.

Happy Radio expands DAB coverage in the northwest
23.09.2022 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Happy Radio UK is expanding its DAB+ coverage across the North West by joining the multiplexes in West Cheshire, Chester, North Wales and on the Fylde Coast. Darren Proctor, who set up Happy Radio with Festival Organiser Max Eden, says: “In the six months since we’ve launched; the response to the station has just been incredible and proves that there has and always will be a want for local radio!” “We’re really excited to be welcoming our latest amazing new sponsors of our daytime line up joining the Happy Radio Family and enabling us to further expand our coverage across the region,” Co-Owner Max Eden added.

(Radio Today UK) Read more


Metadata holds the key to a great experience
23.09.2022 - Radioplayer WorldDAB Member - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Radioplayer's Laurence Harrison spoke about "Keeping radio at the heart of the car dashboard" at yesterday's "Tuning In" conference, organised by the UK commercial radio trade body, Radiocentre. Harrison was asked: If broadcasters had to do one thing to help ensure a strong future for radio in the car, what would it be? "Metadata holds the key to a great experience in the car, no doubt," he responded. "So if you’re providing us with that data, that information, the experience of radio, of your station in the car, is going to be so much better – the station logo, the track and now playing information, even to get voice control right." The full session is available to watch and share.

(Radiocentre) Read more


Christmas comes early as Heart Xmas launches on DAB+
23.09.2022 - Top story - United Kingdom United Kingdom
It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas, as Heart Xmas – a radio station dedicated to non-stop Christmas music, 24/7 – launches across the UK on Friday 23rd September. Heart Xmas is the Christmas-themed sister station of Heart, the UK’s biggest commercial radio brand, and is home to the nation’s favourite festive feel good tunes. Due to the growing popularity of Heart Xmas every year, this year the seasonal spin off station will be available on digital radio across the UK meaning Christmas fans can tune in from wherever they are in the UK on DAB as well as Global Player, bringing even wider coverage!

(Global) Read more


Edinburgh DAB now fully operational
14.09.2022 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Following a soft launch in July, the new Edinburgh DAB multiplex operated by Edinburgh DAB Ltd has now fully launched. It has recently completed a successful upgrade at its Braids Hill transmitter site and is currently carrying 17 radio services, with several others waiting on Ofcom for final licence confirmation. Broadcasting in DAB+ from two transmission sites at Braid Hills golf course and Corstorphine Hill it is audible to over 789,000 adults.

(Radio Today UK) Read more


Fun Coast DAB launches in record time from the top of Blackpool Tower
06.09.2022 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Blackpool’s small-scale DAB radio multiplex has launched just three months after being awarded a licence by Ofcom. Fun Coast Digital CIC, led by former Radio Wave and Wish FM news head Alistair Clarke, along with DAB radio experts Viamux, started officially on 1st September with five services. Central Radio, Sandgrounder Radio, Happy Radio, 45 Radio and Timeless Radio can now be heard along the Lancashire coast from a single transmitter at the top of the local Blackpool Tower landmark. Other services, including Hit Music Radio, Coastal Radio DAB, Fylde Coast Radio, Ultimate Beats Radio and WBPL (Wow Blackpool) will join in the near future.

(Radio Today UK) Read more


Virgin Radio UK launches new DAB+ station Virgin Radio 80s PLUS
31.08.2022 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
We're excited to announce that we are launching Virgin Radio 80s PLUS, a new radio station playing the biggest artists from the 1980s PLUS the best music from the late 1970s and early 1990s, which will broadcast from September 1st. You can listen to Virgin Radio 80s PLUS from Thursday September 1 on DAB+ in London and Central Scotland, online and on smart speakers across the UK, as well as via the Virgin Radio UK app. Virgin Radio 80s PLUS replaces Virgin Radio Pride, which will return in 2023.

(Virgin Radio UK) Read more


Bedford, Coventry and Swansea DAB multiplex licences awarded
19.08.2022 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Ofcom has announced the winners of the small-scale DAB multiplex licenses for Bedford, Coventry and Swansea. They go to In2DAB Limited (Bedford), Coventry Community Digital Radio CIC (formerly Spark FM Limited) and Swansea DAB Limited. Simon McAusland, Chief Executive of Radio Plus says “As more and more people are now listening to radio via digital platforms, it’s vital that Community Radio doesn’t get left behind. With the introduction of these new Small Scale DAB Multiplex Licences, Ofcom has shown that they recognise, understand, and are addressing many of the challenges that community radio stations face. If successful, we hope that our new community-owned multiplex model could become a blueprint for future licences.”

(Radio Today UK) Read more


SwissRadioDay: Paul Chantler on how DAB+ fuels the growth of niche radio stations
17.08.2022 - Switzerland Switzerland - United Kingdom United Kingdom
The SwissRadioDay is the largest meeting of the Swiss radio industry, with the 2022 edition taking place next Thursday, 25 August, in in Zurich's Kaufleuten and accompanied by a live video stream. Ahead of his session at the event, Paul Chantler - director of Fix Radio, Podcast Radio and Arena Radio in the UK - told us how DAB+ fuels the growth of niche radio stations.

(WorldDAB) Read more


More choice of radio stations for Glasgow as new DAB+ mux launches
17.08.2022 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Like DAB have launched the new DAB multiplex across Glasgow. The new small-scale DAB+ multiplex has launched with an initial 18 services, with more becoming available in the coming weeks. The multiplex has launched via one transmission site at Dundasvale Court, with the second site at Cathcart being online shortly.

(Like DAB) Read more


UK regulator publishes Media Nations 2022 report
17.08.2022 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
UK media regulator Ofcom has published its fifth annual "Media Nations" report, a research report for industry, policymakers, academics and consumers. The report highlights that "UK local DAB multiplex coverage grew between March 2021 and March 2022 following the launch of local multiplexes in England covering North and West Cumbria and Morecambe Bay, meaning that 92% of UK homes have local DAB coverage, an increase of one percentage point. A local multiplex for the Channel Islands also launched."

(Ofcom) Read more


  • Ssdab-locations-round-1-4

    Demand grows for small-scale DAB multiplexes in UK

    26.04.2022

    Groups from across the United Kingdom are submitting applications for the third round of small-scale DAB licensing. Small-scale DAB is an innovative technology which provides a low-cost way for local commercial, community and specialist music services to take to the digital airwaves.

    Read more

  • Absabs

    Absolute Radio Network plans DAB+ expansion

    24.03.2021

    Leading digital network Absolute Radio Network recently announced plans to expand its portfolio with the addition of a new musical genre and increased DAB/DAB+ distribution. Bauer's Paul Sylvester, Content Director of the Absolute Radio Network, speaks to DRUK's Yvette Dore about this expansion.

    Read more

  • Ipad

    Digital Radio UK launches new digital radio social media campaign

    15.02.2021

    This week sees the launch of Digital Radio UK’s first social media campaign, which communicates the breadth and diversity of the digital radio content proposition under the overall theme ‘Radio’s Digital Revolution: Listen Right Now’.

    Read more

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Key Information

Status: regular
Population: 67.9 million
Population coverage: Sparkline Graph 98%
Services: 495 DAB, 56 DAB+
New cars with DAB/DAB+ as standard: Sparkline Graph 97.5%
Total Sales (cumulative): 48,198,000 devices
Penetration by household: Sparkline Graph 69%
Last update: 01.11.2021

Useful Links

Local DAB coverage expansions plans
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Digital Radio UK
Digital Tick Mark approved products and services
Ofcom Digital multiplex coverage maps
RAJAR
Stations on DAB in the United Kingdom
UK Digital Radio Action Plan (2014)
Guidance on digital multiplex licensing, and the licensing procedures for digital radio services
Ofcom commercial radio licence application and awards
Ofcom Digital Radio Reports