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.
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
- National multiplexes: 3 Regular
- Regional multiplexes: 10 Regular
- Local multiplexes: 51 Regular and 10 Trial
(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|
Last update: 28.10.2021 - older versions
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
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 email@example.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:
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
- 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.
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
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.
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.
Capital, Heart, Panjab and Smooth Radio are moving to local multiplexes to continue their DAB offerings28.08.2013 - United Kingdom
(Radio Today) Read more
Car makers tuning into the selling power of DAB radio inside motors23.08.2013 - United Kingdom
(Sutton Coldfield Observer) Read more
Super Cool Leon SC with DAB as optional22.08.2013 - United Kingdom
(This is Plymouth) Read more
Honda CR-V 1.6 diesel with DAB as standard22.08.2013 - United Kingdom
(Business Car) Read more
Listen to the launch of JACKfm 2 Oxford22.08.2013 - United Kingdom
(Radio Today) Read more
Ofcom Explores Potential of Small Scale DAB20.08.2013 - United Kingdom
(Radio World) Read more
Naim Audio UnitiQute with DAB20.08.2013 - United Kingdom
(TrustedReviews) Read more
Ford Kuga Titanium X Sport launched in UK with DAB as standard20.08.2013 - United Kingdom
(WorldCarFans.com) Read more
VW Beetle Cabriolet 1.4 TSI 50s Edition with DAB as standard20.08.2013 - United Kingdom
(Get Reading) Read more
Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC with DAB as standard20.08.2013 - United Kingdom
(Auto Express) Read more
|Services:||495 DAB, 56 DAB+|
|New cars with DAB/DAB+ as standard:||97.5%|
|Total Sales (cumulative):||48,198,000 devices|
|Penetration by household:||65%|
Last update: 14.02.2023
Useful LinksLocal 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
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