United Kingdom

Last update: 07.04.2020 - older versions

Implementation of the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) 

The UK government has published a consultation which sets out the Government’s proposed approach to implementation of the European Electronic Communications Code Directive and seeks stakeholders’ views - read more here. The consultation document states: 

“There are a number of elements in the EECC on which we are not seeking views. As an example, this includes Article 113, which requires Member States to mandate the installation of digital radio connectivity in all new car vehicles. We will implement this requirement as part of the transposition of the EECC. In the longer term, we will consider extending this requirement to commercial vehicles and to mandate for the installation of digital connectivity in all domestic radios” this means they will be considered in the Review".

Ofcom Digital Radio Reports

Ofcom has published the eighth annual Digital Radio Report on the progress of digital radio in the UK. The report provides an update on availability, take-up, listening patterns, and attitudes to digital radio, as originally requested by Government in 2010 as part of the Digital Radio Action Plan.

In the report, Ofcom highlights that there are now 337 services on DAB in the UK, and released the report on Twitter under the headline ‘digital radio continues to grow in popularity in the UK’. The full report can be read here.

Ofcom digital radio reports

Digital Radio Switchover

The UK radio industry is committed to a digital future for radio and is working towards a Digital Radio Switchover. 

Government criteria for setting a date for digital radio switchover are:

  • Digital listening share to reach 50% of all listening hours (criteria met Q1 2018)
  • When local commercial and national DAB coverage reaches FM equivalence (criteria met)

The DCMS Digital Radio Action Plan has now been completed.  Details can be found on the U.K Government website. 


Small-scale DAB

In April 2020, Ofcom announced that  they would keep the uptake of small-scale radio multiplex licences under review, and would then consider whether to advertise additional local radio multiplexes, where there is demand. For all small-scale multiplex licences advertised, a 40% limit on population of a local multiplex that can be covered by an overlapping small-scale multiplex or by multiplexes with the same licensee, will be applied.

Ofcom will advertise licences for small-scale DAB in eight batches - every six months - with each each Round taking nine months from advertising to awarding the licences.



  • Digital listening share has increased by 11% to a new record of 58.5%, up from 52.6% inQ4 2018,  while overall digital listening grew by 43.4 million hours or 8% year on year
  • Digital listening in the UK has increased by 11% to a new record of 58.5%, up from 52.6% in Q4 2018 in the latest figures for Q4 2019


  • Listening via DAB grew by 16.1 million hours (or by 4%) year on year to now account for 41% of all listening and 70% of digital listening (Q4 2019)
  • Digital listening in car reached a new record of 44.5%, growing by 15.4 million hours or 16.4% year on year (Q4 2019)
  • With 95% of new cars now coming with DAB as standard (Source: Q4 2019, CAP/SMMT), the majority of in car growth was to DAB which increased by 14 million hours or 15.6% (Q4 2019)


Last update: 27.06.2018 - older versions

Current UK population coverage is: 

  • 97.3% for national BBC stations
  • 90% for national commercial stations. National commercial stations launched across Northern Ireland for the first time in summer 2013
  • 90% 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: 27.06.2018 - older versions

In this country there are

on air.

Total number of DAB/DAB+ services on air
1.            DAB simulcast 329
2.            DAB exclusive 158
3.            DAB+ simulcast 1
4.            DAB+ exclusive 7

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 329 158 487
DAB+ programmes 1 7 8

Last update: 22.01.2020 - older versions

Despite a decline in the number of car sales in the UK, 2019 was a record year for DAB in new vehicles in the UK, with 2.38 million new cars and commercial vehicles hitting the road fitted with DAB digital radio as standard. DAB in new car registrations rose to a record 95% of all new cars in Q4 2019, while DAB in new commercial vehicles increased to a record of over 64%. This means that for the full year of 2019 there were 2.15 million new cars and 232,600 new commercial vehicles fitted with DAB as standard.

In Q1 2019, digital listening in car increased by 20 million hours or 24% year on year to reach a new record share of 41.5% of all in car listening.  Of those 20 million hours, 19 million hours were via DAB digital radio.


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 Sam Bonham, Technology Development Manager, Digital Radio UK sam.bonham@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: 17.05.2018 - 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.


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/

Digital Radio Tick Mark uptake

At the time of writing, Digital Radio UK has processed over 200 successful applications from a wide range of manufacturers, including Roberts, Pure, Sony, Philips and several retail own brands. In the vehicle aftermarket, the majority of digital radios stocked by the major in-car retailer, Halfords, have been granted use of the tick mark and it is visible in store being used on products, post of sale and leaflets. 


Mobile Phones

The LG Stylus2 DAB+ is available to buy here.


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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: 18.08.2015 - older versions

Key features of regulation for digital radio regulation in the United Kingdom are:

  • Digital radio services are broadcast on Band III
  • Third party in some cases operate multiplex
  • More recently, operated by broadcasters
  • National criteria for switch off of analogue:

- 50% of listening must be via digital platforms

- Digital coverage for national services must be comparable to FM, and local DAB reach 90% of the population as well as major roads.

A Royal Charter and Agreement govern the public broadcaster; the BBC, with new stations subject to Government approval and the Office of Communications (Ofcom) regulate the commercial sector. Multiplex licences are currently awarded on a beauty contest formula rather than auctioned. Regulation controls such things as minimum bit-rate for music stations, mandatory ‘must carry’ obligations, maintenance of service providers’ stations commitments and the amount of data content.

In the United Kingdom media and communications regulator Ofcom advertise and provide the licenses for digital radio services in the United Kingdom, under the Broadcasting Acts of 1990 and 1996. Ofcom awards licenses for digital radio services differently depending on the type of service and the platform. Ofcom advertises the licences of new digital radio ensembles and are subject to an open competition to the highest bidder. Ensemble licence awards are awarded for twelve years. Licences are awarded on a national, regional and local basis.

Broadcasters also need to contact the ensemble or multiplex operator of a local or national DAB ensemble or digital terrestrial multiplex to broadcast within a region, subject to a fee payable to the ensemble operator.

Last update: 30.07.2018 - older versions

Digital Radio UK is the organisation charged with overseeing the promotion of digital radio in the UK. Consumers and listeners can find out all about digital radio at www.getdigitalradio.com.

2018 Campaigns

Summer Campaign

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.

Autumn Campaign

Autumn activity will have dedicated creative focusing on in-car upgrade to digital radio.

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 Campaigns

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.

2016 Campaigns

Summer Campaign

Digital Radio UK ran its biggest ever summer digital radio campaign to support the amazing summer of sport and music, kicking off 10 June. The campaign was on air running on BBC national and local stations and across major commercial radio stations. The campaign aim was to encourage listeners to get set for summer with digital radio and focuses on listening on the move, car conversion car and looking for the tick mark.

In car conversion phase of Summer campaign

  • The third and final burst of the digital radio Summer campaign, which is entirely dedicated to in car conversion messaging, launched 6 August across commercial stations.
  • There were two key executions, both highlighting that digital radio gives you more radio in your car, with a call to action to look for the digital radio tick and the availability of registered Tick Mark installers. There were versions created tailored for digital-only stations as well as all stations. Listen here.
  • This Summer’s campaign was the most extensive to date, with 8 weeks of activity in total across the months of May- August, with three phases timed to support key content highlights, including festivals, the Euros and the Olympics.
  • Chris Moyles ran a Pure Highway/Halfords promotion on his Radio X breakfast show on 5 August, 2016, giving away 10 devices plus a 50% discount for listeners who register via the Radio X website.

Get Set for Summer with Digital Radio

  • BBC - the BBC ran their biggest digital radio campaign to date across their national network of stations and BBC Local Radio – including BBC Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 3, Radio 4, 4 Extra, Radio 5 live and 6 Music. The campaign theme was ‘Get set for Summer’ and focused on digital listening on the move and explaining the benefits of digital radio to non-listeners using the line ‘digital radio is better radio’.
  • BBC used leading station on air talent to voice the digital radio campaign with Clara Amfo on Radio 1, 1 Xtra  and  Asian Network,  Mark Radcliffe on  6 Music  and 4 Extra,  Arthur Smith and Sally Phillips on Radio 2, Radio 3 and Radio 4  plus BBC Local Radio and Nations, Helena Oldroyd  on BBC 5 live and 5 live sports extra.
  • Commercial Radio - the DRUK industry  ‘Get Set for Summer’ campaign was on air running across major commercial groups with an initial burst focusing on parallel themes to the BBC encouraging listeners to look for the digital tick when purchasing a digital radio and then a second major burst in July supporting car conversion and the tick mark installation scheme.

Father’s Day Campaign

  • Digital Radio UK ran a tactical burst of additional activity to support Father’s Day gifting with the message ‘get your Dad set for Summer this Father’s Day with digital radio’.

2015 Campaigns

  • A summer campaign started on 15 June and ran until 31 July with the theme of not missing out on the summer of music and sport, supported by a trade-up campaign for car radios (with a 20% discount on digital car radios).
  • The BBC will run a radio campaign across national and local stations during June focussing on more of the music and sport you love.
  • The first ever digital radio tick mark consumer campaign in the UK started in April 2015. The campaign on commercial radio featured the message ‘look for the tick if you are buying a radio for your car‘. There are 5 tick mark radio ads featuring Suzi Perry.
Ofcom sets out licensing plans for small-scale DAB
07.04.2020 - Digital Radio UK WorldDAB Member - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Ofcom has today published a statement setting out how they will licence small-scale DAB following the consideration of responses to their small-scale licencing consultation. Ofcom will keep the uptake of small-scale radio multiplex licences under review and will then consider whether to advertise additional local radio multiplexes, where there is demand. For all small-scale multiplex licences advertised, a 40% limit on population of a local multiplex that can be covered by an overlapping small-scale multiplex or by multiplexes with the same licensee, will be applied.

Read more

Frontier Smart Technologies adds Covid-19 services
02.04.2020 - Frontier Smart Technologies WorldDAB Member - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Frontier Smart Technologies is working with the radio industry to launch new services related to the COVID-19 crisis. Frontier based digital radios will automatically show any new DAB stations without the user needing to perform a new scan.

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DAB+ lends a hand in a time of crisis
02.04.2020 - WorldDAB News - United Kingdom United Kingdom
In this time of crisis, we are seeing more and more ways by which DAB+ digital radio is helping broadcasters keep citizens informed and address issues such as loneliness, due to long period of social distancing and self-isolation. WorldDAB President Patrick Hannon details some of these initiatives, and discusses the role of DAB+ radio in helping to manage the crisis caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

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Small Scale DAB radio licences extended in the UK
27.03.2020 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
The ten trial Small Scale DAB multiplex operators have had their temporary licences extended till the end of 2021. The contracts were awarded by Ofcom five years ago to run for just nine months, but were extended a number of times, and were due to run out on March 31st 2020. But the regulator told the licence holders this month they will now be able to operate their multiplexes till December 31st, 2021.

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BBC local radio to offer free DAB radios for over 70s
26.03.2020 - British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) WorldDAB Member - United Kingdom United Kingdom
BBC local radio is teaming up with manufacturers, retailers and a loneliness charity to offer free DAB radios to the most vulnerable people aged over 70. The initiative is part of the BBC’s Make A Difference campaign, which was launched in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. It is running across all 39 BBC local radio stations in England and is aimed at connecting communities. Nominations open on Monday 30 March.

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Health Info radio cuts through the Covid-19 confusion
26.03.2020 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Health Info Radio is taking a stand against the confusion created by the spread of inaccurate and downright misleading information about Covid-19. Produced as a public service by Southdown Media in London, the station offers a mix of updates on Covid-19 symptoms, myths, and social isolation rules, plus interviews designed to help listeners through the shutdown.

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UK telecoms firms unite on campaign to avoid network outage
25.03.2020 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Britain’s biggest telecoms companies including BT, Sky, O2, Vodafone and Virgin Media have put their rivalries aside to launch a national campaign to tell the public how to manage the surge in internet and mobile phone usage and reduce congestion on networks as millions are confined to their homes.

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David Witherow, past president of WorldDAB, dies aged 82
20.03.2020 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
A senior executive at the BBC, David Witherow CBE, was the first president of WorldDAB from 1995 to 1997. He was in charge of the start-up of the BBC’s DAB services in 1995 and in recognition, he received the WorldDAB Award for Outstanding Service (Per Erik Selemark Award) in 2000. Much loved by all who worked with him, one said "he was the gentlest of men, tolerant, understanding, wise, with a warm sense of humour”.

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Health Info Radio launched on DAB to broadcast COVID-19 updates
16.03.2020 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
A new service has launched on a number of DAB digital radio multiplexes in the UK with information on the COVID-19 outbreak. Health Info Radio is on Aldershot and Woking, Brighton, Hove and East Worthing, Birmingham, Glasgow, Portsmouth and Norwich SSDAB multiplexes, with more to be added in the coming days.

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WorldDAB launches Automotive Help Point
12.03.2020 - WorldDAB News - United Kingdom United Kingdom
The WorldDAB Automotive Help Point will help car manufacturers and broadcasters resolve issues related to in-car DAB+ and provide the best possible digital radio experience in the car.

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Key Information

Status: regular
Population: 67.8 million
Population coverage: Sparkline Graph 97.3%
Services: 487 DAB, 8 DAB+
New cars with DAB/DAB+ as standard: Sparkline Graph 95%
Total Sales (cumulative): 41,219,000 devices
Penetration by household: Sparkline Graph 65%
Last update: 18.02.2020

Useful Links

Ofcom awards of digital radio multiplex licences
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
Stations on DAB in the United Kingdom
Guidance on digital multiplex licensing, and the licensing procedures for digital radio services
Ofcom Digital Radio Reports