United Kingdom

Last update: 13.07.2020 - older versions

Implementation of the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) 

In June 2020, the UK's Department for Transport published a consultation on their proposal to mandate the fitment of terrestrial digital radio in new cars as part of their implementation of the EU Electronic Communications Code.

The proposal is that from 21 December 2020 all passenger cars sold in the UK with at least 4 wheels (category M vehicles) which are fitted with a radio must have a radio capable of receiving digital radio stations.

The consultation closes on 26 June and if approved would pass into domestic law. This is consistent with the regulation being introduced across EU member states which will help accelerate digital radio take-up across Europe.

More information is available here

Small-scale DAB

In April 2020, the UK Ofcom published a statement setting out how they will licence small-scale DAB, saying they will advertise licences for small-scale DAB in eight batches - or ‘Rounds’ -  starting with Round One comprised of 25 local areas across the UK, including five where trials are already underway.

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 

 

KEY DIGITAL RADIO FACTS AND FIGURES:

  • Digital listening share has increased to a new record of 58.6% in Q1 2020, up from 56.4% in Q1 2019 - representing a 4% growth in share percentage
  • Digital reach is also at a new record with 36.9 million adults, or 67% of the population, tuning in via a digital platform, up from 36.3m in Q1 2019

KEY DAB FACTS AND FIGURES:

  • Listening via DAB now accounts for 40% of all listening and 69% of digital listening, while listening via DTV now accounts for 4% of all listening and 8% of digital listening (Q1 2020)
  • Digital listening in car maintained the new record set in the last quarter at 44.5% of all in car listening and growing by 5.5million hours or 5.5% year on year (Q1 2020)
  • 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
Total330165495

Last update: 15.05.2020 - 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 2020, digital listening in car maintained the new record set in the last quarter at 44.5% of all in car listening and growing by 5.5million hours or 5.5% year on year.

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: 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.

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/

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:

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: 08.04.2020 - older versions

 

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)

Digital Radio and Audio review

The UK government has also kicked-off a digital radio and audio review, which will examine future trends and consider how radio should adapt to changing listening habits. This review is planned to complete in March 2021.


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.

SEAT Ibiza Special Editions
09.04.2008 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
The first 300 buyers will also have a DAB digital stereo radio provided for free...

(CarKeys.co.uk) Read more


UKRD and MuxCo apply for DAB
27.03.2008 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Thursday 27 March 2008: Eagle Radio owner UKRD has teamed up with MuxCo to apply for the digital radio multiplex to cover Surrey and Northern Sussex. ...

(Radio Today, UK) Read more


ROBERTS: STREAM 202: DAB/FM and Wi-Fi Made Portable - Now That's a ...
26.03.2008 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
LONDON, March 25 /PRNewswire/ -- You can have the best of everything: DAB, FM and Wi-Fi, thanks to this portable radio from ROBERTS, a world first. ...

(Roberts) Read more


Ofcom awards new local digital radio multiplex licence for Mid and West Wales
20.03.2008 - UK OFCOM - United Kingdom United Kingdom
This is one of a number of new local radio multiplex licences planned to develop DAB coverage for services in those parts of the country not already served. This licensing process will lead to a significant...

(OFCOM) Read more


Local DAB for North Wales
20.02.2008 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Today’s advertisement is one of a number of new local radio multiplex licences planned to develop DAB coverage for local services in those parts of the ...

(Radio Today, UK) Read more


Strong Sales for DAB Radio
20.02.2008 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
DAB digital radio continued its Christmas tradition of strong sales, with one million products bought in quarter four, 2007. More than 550000 DAB radios ...

(Radio Today, UK) Read more


Ofcom advertises new local digital radio multiplex licence for Somerset
23.01.2008 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Ofcom today advertises a new local Digital Audio Broadcasting ( DAB) radio multiplex licence to cover Somerset.

Read more


Gloucestershire licence award decision
22.01.2008 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Ofcom has awarded the new local digital radio multiplex licence for Gloucestershire to MuxCo. The only other applicant came from GCap Media's NOW Digital ...

(OFCOM) Read more


The Future of Radio...is it digital?
23.11.2007 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Digital radio got a boost today with the launch of a new taskforce to discuss its future set up by Culture Secretary James Purnell. The expert and consumer working group will look at how to promote digital radio and increase the numbers of people listening to it.

Read more


Top Man leaves DRDB
13.11.2007 - United Kingdom United Kingdom
Ian Dickens leaves DRDB after 5 years. Ian has set the UK as a model for other countries to follow as DAB digital radio takes off.

Read more


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Key Information

Status: regular
Population: 67.9 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): 41,152,000 devices
Penetration by household: Sparkline Graph 65%
Last update: 31.07.2020

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