United Kingdom

Last update: 23.05.2024 - older versions

RAJAR audience research data published in May 2024, and covering the period ending March 2024, shows the continued growth of DAB listening in the United Kingdom.

  • 50 million adults or 89% of the adult (15+) UK population tuned in to radio stations each week in the first quarter of 2024.
  • DAB's share of in-car listening reached a record high of 57.5% - a significant increase both from the previous quarter (55.4%) and year-on-year (50.6%). 
  • DAB's share of all listening is 42.6%, against 39.8% in the same period last year.
  • The total digital share of listening (DAB, DTV, Website/App, or Smart speaker) also hit a record high of 73%, up from 67.6% in 2023. In terms of reach, 44 million adults - 77% of the population - aged 15+ are now tuning in to radio via a digitally enabled platform each week.
  • In an average week, digital listening accounts for 746 million hours; DAB has a 58% share of digital listening hours.
  • AM/FM share of all listening fell to 27% from 32.4% in the same period last year.

RAJAR produces an infographic showing key UK audience data.

Further analysis is available from Matt Deegan: "Radio's Relentlessness - Q1/2024 RAJAR" and James Cridland: "Broadcast radio continues to offer the majority of radio listening in the UK".

 

Small-scale DAB

The small-scale DAB programme in the UK will enable the launch of around 150 or more multiplexes, covering all four UK nations. By May 2024, 55 multiplexes had launched, broadcasting a range of radio services, from grass-roots community services to specialist music stations, and services aimed at minority groups and other under-served audiences.

UK regulator Ofcom says "Small-scale DAB is an established technology which provides a low-cost way for local commercial, community and specialist music services to take to the digital airwaves."

Several licensing rounds have now been completed, and in May 2024, applications opened for the sixth round of small-scale DAB radio multiplex licences for 31 areas across England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

Read more about small-scale DAB licensing in the UK on the media regulator Ofcom's website. In May 2022, Ofcom published a review of demand in the first three licensing rounds.

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.

The Voice community radio station launches The Voice 2 on DAB
10.04.2024 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
The Voice in north Devon has launched a second radio station on DAB called The Voice 2. The extra service plays music from the 60s, 70s and 80s and includes local news, travel and presenters. It started at 7am today, Tuesday 9th April, covering the same area as The Voice. Managing Director Jim Trevelyan said: “Local radio has evolved, and as such opportunities arise, we have then risen to that challenge to provide a new service. The two stations complement each other very well and mean North Devon has two truly local radio stations. Rescan your DAB radio.”

(Radio Today UK) Read more


Radio Newark expands on Nottingham DAB multiplex
09.04.2024 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Community station Radio Newark has extended its coverage towards Nottingham by joining the new small-scale DAB multiplex in the area. Radio Newark says its current FM footprint has a reach of around 60,000, and the DAB service will cover an area of over 750,000 people. Radio Newark Director of Operations Phil Johnson told RadioToday: “It’s a massive, massive difference in our potential reach, but we have to remember that we are still Radio Newark – we are not here to take on Nottingham. This is about making Radio Newark more available to Newark people, or to people who see themselves as having some connection to Newark.”

(Radio Today UK) Read more


V2 Radio joins DAB in Hampshire and grows coverage area
08.04.2024 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
V2 Radio is dropping Sussex from its name as it grows its coverage area to include parts of Hampshire on DAB. MD Justin Cottrell tells RadioToday: "We are now the only proper local radio station covering Sussex and Hampshire. We have extended our reach so that we can continue to offer the appeal across our region, with a specific focus on a 25-mile radius of Chichester." The station adds that the extra coverage will be useful for local people who commute outside of their core area and still want to listen on DAB.

(Radio Today UK) Read more


West Hull FM expands on DAB and rebrands
04.04.2024 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
West Hull FM 106.9FM is launching on DAB+ to a wider area around Hull and Beverley and has rebranded as Humber Wave Radio. Adey Wright, Managing Director of WHCR said: “Our service broadcasts 24 hours a day and touches more places than ever before. Our new digital radio platform increases this reach even further. We all know the future is digital, and we are excited to once again be pioneers in broadcasting the first truly local digital service to Hull, East Yorkshire, and North Lincolnshire as Humber Wave Radio.” Humber Wave Radio will be on Hull DAB from mid-April.

(Radio Today UK) Read more


Sun FM to rebrand as Nation Radio North East and expand on DAB
03.04.2024 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Nation Radio is to replace Sun FM on across Sunderland, County Durham and Darlington. Nation Radio North East will also be available on DAB in Newcastle + Gateshead, South Shields + Tynemouth, Darlington + Bishop Auckland, Middlesbrough + Redcar when it launches on 1st May. Nation’s Chairman Jason Bryant commented: “Strong, national brands are increasingly important in commercial radio. Nation Radio competes with and often beats other national brands in markets across the UK. Its roll out to the North East is an important moment in our development.”

(Radio Today UK) Read more


Best DAB radios 2024: portable, Bluetooth and digital radio systems tested
28.03.2024 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Despite having myriad options for listening to music and accessing news headlines, we still love the original 'wireless' radio. There are times when switching BBC 6 Music on in the kitchen just can't be beaten. With the advent of DAB/DAB+, internet radio and Bluetooth streaming, the humble radio has also come a long way since its bedside clock integration. What follows is our pick of the best DAB radios that have graced our test rooms (and our homes) over the years, put through their paces by our experienced team of in-house reviewers.

(What Hi-Fi?) Read more


U.K. broadcast radio considers the future
25.03.2024 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Change is in the air for broadcast radio in the United Kingdom, with a slew of potential developments in the offing and likely to impact its future delivery, both in terms of licensing and regarding technical implementations. In what would be the first significant development in its portfolio of national services since as far back as 2002, the BBC is proposing introducing various new DAB services, using DAB+ at scale for the first time. Commenting on the plans, Lorna Clarke, director of BBC Music, stated that the corporation wants to provide more choices as listening habits change. “Our extensions for Radio 1, Radio 2 and Radio 3 will allow listeners to deep dive into more pop and classical genres and periods of music they love the most.” Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, the U.K. Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport is considering responses to its consultation on analog community radio licensing. This consultation follows the 2022 Digital Radio and Audio Review, which concluded that analog broadcasting should continue at least until 2030.

(RedTech) Read more


Date set for the closure of BBC Radio 4 medium wave
21.03.2024 - British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) WorldDAB Member - United Kingdom United Kingdom
BBC Radio 4 will turn off its medium wave frequencies and end its separate schedule for long wave by 15 April 2024. Daily Service and the extended edition of Yesterday in Parliament will be available on BBC Radio 4 Extra on DAB, Digital TV and BBC Sounds from 1 April. Upon its return, Test Match Special will continue uninterrupted on Radio 5 Sports Extra on DAB, Digital TV and BBC Sounds. The Shipping Forecast will continue to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 twice a day (weekdays) and three times a day (weekends). This will be available on all platforms: FM, DAB, BBC Sounds, Digital TV. This means there will no longer be a separate schedule for Radio 4 LW and the BBC is encouraging listeners to transition to alternative platforms from April 1st. Finally, Radio 4 will no longer be available on medium wave – meaning the end to nine transmitters on 15 April.

(Radio Today UK) Read more


Xperi expands its radio offerings across Europe with AIM Player and Rapid Four
18.03.2024 - Xperi Corporation WorldDAB Member - United Kingdom United Kingdom
In an effort to help the broadcasting industry continue to elevate, innovate and reach new audiences, Xperi has been working to expand its offerings across the European market with the introduction of Nation Player and Rapid Four. Starting in June, Xperi’s All In Media (AIM) and Nation Broadcasting will begin offering a free to access radio and audio app in the UK. Aptly titled ‘Nation Player,’ the new aggregator app, which is powered by AIM Player technology, is open to radio operators and major podcast producers who want to reach a UK audience in the home, on mobile and in the car. Nation Broadcasting executive chairman, Jason Bryant, said, “As streamed listening share accelerates, the in-car, connected experience becomes critical for listeners. We wanted to build a platform that is united and industry wide.”

(Xperi) Read more


Bedford Radio marks DAB launch
18.03.2024 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Bedford Radio has published a manifesto setting out its vision of local radio for Bedford, to mark their official launch on DAB digital radio. The manifesto sets out what makes Bedford Radio the distinctive local radio station for Bedford. Founder & Station Manager Martin Steers said: “As a team all our volunteers are passionate about Bedford, providing great entertainment to the town, informing people about what’s going on with community groups, events, & local businesses, and engaging our listeners into getting involved.” The station launched online in 2020 and joined DAB last week.

(Radio Today UK) 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 100%
Total Sales (cumulative): 52,436,000 devices
Penetration by household: Sparkline Graph 66%
Last update: 26.02.2024

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