United Kingdom

Last update: 03-08-2017 - 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. Click here to watch a video of former Ed Vaizey, UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries speaking at the WorldDAB General Assembly 2015 in London and click here to read the speech he gave at the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the EU, Brussels, 26th November 2014, at the conference: "Digital Audio Broadcasting: A sustainable future broadcasting model for Europe".

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

  • Digital listening share to reach 50% of all listening hours
  • When local commercial and national DAB coverage reaches FM equivalence

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

DIGITAL RADIO FACTS AND FIGURES:

  • Digital listening is 48.7% (RAJAR Q2 2017). This is a percentage share growth of 7.5% compared to 45.3% in Q2 2016 and up from 47.2% in Q1 2017.
  • DAB accounts for 71% of all digital listening (RAJAR Q2 2017)
  • In car digital listening is now at a record share of 29.7%, growth of +20% year on year, supported by over 700,000 new cars on UK roads with DAB digital radio as standard in Q1 2017 alone (Q1 2016 CAP/SMMT).
  • 87% of new cars sold in Q1 2017 came with DAB as standard (CAP/SMMT Q1 2017).

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.

Ender's Analysis report: "Radio - set for a digital future?"

Drive to Digital: NOW Conference

On Friday 6 February 2015 the Drive to Digital: NOW conference was held with a series of announcements from Ed Vaizey MP, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy about digital radio policy and progress. The Minister outlined how the switchover criteria for coverage and listening could be achieved over the next 2 years. The Digital Radio UK press release is available to download here.

Download the presentations from Drive to Digital:NOW

Last update: 12-07-2017 - older versions

Current UK population coverage is: 

  • 97% 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

Last update: 24-03-2017 - 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.

Growth in digital content

Ofcom's Sixth Annual Digital Radio Report highlights the growth in digital radio content with 283 unique stations now broadcasting on DAB, and from Spring 2016 there are no less than 40 national DAB stations available after the launch of the second national commercial DAB network. As per RAJAR Q2 2016 results, over all digital reach increased by 2.3 million listeners year on year, boosted by encouraging first books from stations on Sound Digital, the second commercial DAB network launched in March 2016 with 18 national stations.

Growth in local and national DAB listening

Following the transformation of the coverage of local DAB stations to reach 91% of the population by the end of Q3 2016 (from 75%), digital listening to local stations this quarter exceeded 30% for the first time, growing to 31.4% (from 26.8% in Q2 2015), a growth of 17% year on year.  Digital share of national station listening also continues to grow, increasing to 53.5% (from 47.9% in Q2 2015). Source: RAJAR Q2 2016

Feature of services on air

Digital-only stations continue to grow and now account for over 30% of all digital listening (RAJAR Q1 2016). In the UK, Absolute Radio has launched a set of additional radio stations on DAB - using brand extensions to earn more revenue - launching more radio stations to broaden its output and increase its audience. It has seen significant increases in listening hours, audience and in revenues as a result.

Smooth Radio has also launched Smooth Radio 70s, a national digital-only station.

In 2014, Global Radio’s LBC became the first national full news talk commercial radio station to be broadcast across the UK. In March LBC hosted a well-publicised leadership debate on Europe between UKIP Leader Nigel Farage and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.  The debate, in partnership with Sky News attracted national and international media coverage for LBC.  

During the 2014 and 2015 Eurovision Song Contest, a digital-only pop-up station BBC Radio 2 Eurovision, offered comprehensive coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest.

The 2014 Brazil World Cup was fully covered on DAB digital radio, with every match being covered by talkSPORT and BBC Radio 5 live/BBC Radio 5 live sports extra.

During the 2015, 2016  and 2017Country to Country festival in London, a country music pop up station available on DAB, online and mobile was launched by the BBC. Named Radio 2 Country, the station broadcasted music, documentaries and archive content. Listen to the Radio 2 Country audio advert. BBC Radio 2 Country launched on 10 March 2017 over four days.  More information

Leading London station Magic went national on DAB digital radio from January 2015. This is a major milestone for digital radio as Magic is one of London's top radio stations, with nearly 2 million listeners in London alone. This will be the first time that the Magic brand and their popular breakfast show 'Foxy in the Morning' will be available nationally. Outside London if you want to listen to Magic you will need to listen on digital radio.

 

 

 

 

Simulcast on AM / FM Exclusive on digital Total of services
DAB programmes 329 158 487
DAB+ programmes 1 7 8
Total330165495

Last update: 09-02-2017 - older versions

87% of new cars now have DAB digital radio as standard.

In 2016, a total of 2.3 million cars were sold with DAB as standard.

Q4 2016 saw the highest-ever recorded proportion of in-car radio listening, accounting for 23.3% of all radio listening, growth supported by the increase of in-car digital radio with 87% of new cars now fitted with DAB as standard (Q4 2016 CAP/SMMT). In this quarter, in-car digital listening hours grew by 40% year-on-year to 62.3 million hours from 44.5 million hours in Q4 2015.

With over 35 million cars on the road, the challenge (and opportunity) remains in the aftermarket. Digital Radio UK is working with the industry to support the growing aftermarket with consistent media and in-store promotional campaigns. As of January 2016, over 6.5 million cars on the road in the UK are able to receive digital radio.  All new cars in the UK fitted with DAB are also DAB+ compatible which is important given the launch of 3 DAB+ services on the new Sound Digital DAB network  – Jazz FM, Fun Kids and Magic Chilled – and with more expected to come.

RAC launches digital radio installation service

The RAC is a vehicle repair and recovery service in the UK. They are the first repair group to launch an online digital radio installation service with fully fitted adapters from £149.99 [see here]. There are currently two products available, the AutoDAB Connect (£149.99 fitted) and the JustDRIVE DAB (£219.99 fitted) - both tick mark approved.

Digital Radio UK – Digital Dashboard Audit

Drivers love digital radio in cars, and DAB digital radio is increasingly becoming the norm; 86% of new cars in the UK now come with DAB as standard. However, the introduction of connected cars and changes to digital dashboards could affect the ability of drivers to access broadcast radio. Digital Radio UK has conducted a Digital Dashboard Audit to find out if radio is still prominent on dashboards and assess the implications of connectivity on the user experience. Read the full report here.

Service Following

Alongside the launch of the Digital Radio Certification Mark; Arqiva, Global Radio and Digital Radio UK have rolled out service following for Global Radio to all those ensembles carrying Global Radio services – Capital, Heart, XFM, Gold and Classic FM. This is a significant milestone for the industry and comes after three years of trials. Service following is required as part of the Minimum Specification for in-vehicle products, therefore this test route will be useful for manufacturers to test their products.  For more information 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: 02-03-2017 - older versions

DAB ownership has increased to 58% of all households and 73% of digital listening is DAB, whilst online/apps represent 16% of digital listening and digital TV represents 11%.

According to Q4 2016 RAJAR data, 31 million adults claim to own a DAB Radio, up 6% Year on Year.

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: 22-07-2016 - 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 will broadcast for a nine month period and then Ofcom will work with Government to decide the next steps.

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 

More information is available here.

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.

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: 22-05-2017 - 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.

2016 Campaigns

Summer Campaign

Digital Radio UK is running its biggest ever summer digital radio campaign to support the amazing summer of sport and music, kicking off 10 June. The campaign is now on air running on BBC national and local stations and across major commercial radio stations. The campaign encourages 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 are 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. We have created versions tailored for digital-only stations as well as all stations. Listen here.
  • This Summer’s campaign has been 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 are running their biggest digital radio campaign this year 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  - listen here.
  • Commercial Radio - the DRUK industry  ‘Get Set for Summer’ campaign is now 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 – listen here.

Father’s Day Campaign

  • 19 June is Father’s Day and we are running 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’ – listen here.

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.

 

2014 Campaigns

  • The Christmas digital radio industry advertising campaign, featuring Formula One host and ex-Gadget Show presenter Suzi Perry, ran on air on commercial radio and BBC national and local radio stations. The campaign received the widest support from broadcasters and includes executions which ran on BBC digital stations Radio 6 Music, Radio 4 Extra and Radio 1 Xtra D1 digital stations as well as commercial groups as diverse as Global, Bauer, Communicorp, talkSPORT, Free Radio, Town and Country, KMFM and community stations.
  • A digital radio summer communications campaign ran in two phases: the first on commercial radio from 30 May-14 June, and the second with BBC/commercial radio from 28 June-August.
  • As part of the BBC summer digital radio campaign the BBC produced 15 second TV slides to run on the end of content promos featuring information about accessing digital radio content. These ran from late June, alongside 30” radio executions on all networks and were supported online.

  • A summer digital radio car giveaway promotion with Peugeot ran on the Absolute Radio Network of stations from 14 - 28 June. A new Peugeot 308, European Car of the Year, was given away to a winner on air.
  • Installers and products (starting with the vehicle industry) began to carry the ‘Tick Mark’ certification from Q4 2014.  Communication campaigns of the ‘Tick Mark’ ran simultaneously.
  • After the success of the Absolute Radio/Peugeot on-air car giveaway promotion, Absolute Radio launched their version of the industry summer coordinated digital radio campaign 'Don't miss a thing' with 6 new executions featuring Absolute Radio presenters and the choice of Absolute Radio stations. There is consistent messaging with the 9 BBC trails and 9 commercial radio ads, which ran through to early August.
Rajar figures show DAB take-up increasing
06.11.2008 - United Kingdom - United Kingdom
Take-up of DAB digital radio increased by 32% year on year during Q3, according to Rajar, ...
From Brand Republic, UK:

Radio Waves: Why Dab is here to stay
19.10.2008 - United Kingdom - United Kingdom
Dab, RIP? Channel 4’s decision to get out of digital radio comes only months after our biggest commercial radio group also abandoned it.

Digital listening continues to grow
16.10.2008 - United Kingdom - United Kingdom
Figures released by Rajar today (October 16) show a steady increase in digital radio listening with figures revealing around 30% year-on-year growth in the key performance indicators: DAB platform share, listening hours and adults with a DAB radio at home.

Frontier Silicon brings high-end internet radio functionality to its mass-market radio platform
WorldDAB Members News - 13.10.2008 - Frontier Silicon Ltd. - United Kingdom - United Kingdom
Frontier Silicon, the leading supplier of digital radio technology, has launched a new low-cost, low-power Internet radio module that will be shown at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair this week.

Frontier powers ahead with DAB receiver module
WorldDAB Members News - 11.10.2008 - Frontier Silicon Ltd. - United Kingdom - United Kingdom
WorldDMB announced Profile 1 last month to facilitate the rapid growth of digital radio across Europe by providing receiver manufactures with the ...
From EETimes.com:

Frontier Silicon Unveils Advanced Unified Receiver Module to ...
WorldDAB Members News - 11.10.2008 - Frontier Silicon Ltd. - United Kingdom - United Kingdom
... France, Germany and Italy are planning major digital radio launches during the next 12 months, while the DAB market is growing in the UK all of which ...
From TMCnet:

Ofcom statement on Channel 4 and DAB radio
WorldDAB Members News - 10.10.2008 - UK OFCOM - United Kingdom - United Kingdom
Channel 4 has today informed Ofcom of its decision to withdraw from 4 Digital Group, the consortium which was awarded a licence for the second national commercial DAB radio multiplex last year.

DRDB statement on Channel 4 Radio decision
10.10.2008 - United Kingdom - United Kingdom
The DRDB (Digital Radio Development Bureau) regrets Channel 4’s decision, announced today, to withdraw from the 4 Digital Group consortium which was awarded a licence for the second national commercial DAB multiplex last year.

Channel 4 abandons digital radio
WorldDAB Members News - 10.10.2008 - Channel 4 Radio - United Kingdom - United Kingdom
Mr Duncan added: "We've pursued our radio plans in good faith and continue to believe DAB has a strong future, and that we could make a return to radio in ...
From BBC News, UK:

How can Ofcom prevent a digital radio crisis?
WorldDAB Members News - 10.10.2008 - UK OFCOM - United Kingdom - United Kingdom
Ofcom is to hold emergency talks in a bid to salvage a viable commercial DAB radio sector after Channel 4 today abandoned all radio plans, pulling out of ...
From guardian.co.uk, UK:

Select Country:

Key Information

Status: regular
Population: 64.1 million
Population coverage: Sparkline Graph 97%
Services: 487 DAB, 8 DAB+
New cars with DAB/DAB+ as standard: Sparkline Graph 87%
Total Sales (cumulative): 33,724,000 devices
Penetration by household: Sparkline Graph 60%
Last update: 05.10.2017

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
Digital radio reports