Sound DigitalSound Digital, the joint venture company formed by Arqiva, Bauer Media and UTV Media in 2014, has today announced its plan to switch on the UK’s second national DAB digital radio multiplex network on Monday 29th February 2016.

The Secretary of State, Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP, will perform the official switch-on of the new multiplex network built by transmission provider Arqiva at a central London event on Tuesday 1st March. This event will also see the launch of the national Big Retune campaign to encourage listeners to retune their digital radios to access the full range of available stations.

The landmark switch-on paves the way for listeners to access 18 national radio stations, representing a huge increase in choice for the British public. This includes four previously unannounced radio stations, with the UK’s only dedicated children’s radio service Fun Kids, a brand new sister station to the popular Magic brand – Magic Chilled, leading Asian broadcaster Panjab Radio and contemporary Christian music channel Premier Praise all agreeing to join the line-up ahead of the launch.

The confirmed stations, all of which will launch either on 29th February or within a month of this date, are:

Virgin Radio
Share Radio (replaces TalkBusiness in the original bid for the licence)
Mellow Magic
Magic Chilled (DAB+)
Absolute 80s (moving from its current slot on Digital 1)
Kisstory (moving from its slots on various local DAB services)
heat radio (moving from its slots on various local DAB services)
Planet Rock (moving from its current slot on Digital 1)
Sunrise Radio
Awesome Radio (new – from Asian Sound Radio)
UCB2 (the recently renamed station, moving from its slots on various local DAB services)
Premier Christian Radio (moving from its current slot on Digital 1)
Premier Praise! (new)
Panjab Radio
Fun Kids (existing London DAB frequency remains) (DAB+)
Jazz FM (DAB+)
The announcement follows the award of a second national DAB multiplex licence by Ofcom to Sound Digital in March 2015. The new multiplex will support the continued digital development of radio, with Sound Digital’s line-up of popular and well-loved brands living entirely or predominantly on digital platforms.

UTV Media’s offering includes two original speech stations in talkRADIO and talkSPORT 2, with the media owner also returning the iconic Virgin Radio brand to the British public, under a partnership with the Virgin Group.

Bauer Media will cater to a range of musical tastes with the national launch of quality music stations Mellow Magic and Magic Chilled, as well as the hugely popular stations KISSTORY, heat, Absolute 80s and Planet Rock.

There will also be a range of compelling independent stations to cater for specific areas of interest, including jazz music, financial information, Christian programming, Asian music and children’s programming.

The line-up includes the UK’s first national services delivered via the newer DAB+ standard. DAB+ is more spectrum efficient than existing DAB, enabling more radio stations to be broadcast with the same amount of capacity. Currently, the majority of DAB digital radios will only receive stations using DAB, however many newer DAB digital radios can receive DAB+ channels and, over time, that number will grow organically. Jazz FM, Fun Kids and Magic Chilled will all be delivered using DAB+.

Scott Taunton, Chief Operating Officer, UTV Media plc, said: “Today marks a landmark moment for British broadcasting, with confirmation that the biggest expansion in radio choice for a generation is just weeks away. UTV is proud to be broadening the range of speech radio programming through the launch of talkRADIO and talkSPORT 2, as well as reuniting the British public with the iconic Virgin Radio brand.”

Dee Ford, Group Managing Director Radio, Bauer Media, said: “The launch of the UK’s second national DAB multiplex is a significant moment in radio’s digital development. Bauer is the UK’s leading commercial digital radio broadcaster, and the national launches of Mellow Magic and Magic Chilled, heat Radio, KISSTORY, Absolute 80 and Planet Rock on the new multiplex offer exciting programming to drive consumer take-up.”

Steve Holebrook, Managing Director of Arqiva Terrestrial Broadcast, said: “Since the licence was awarded in March 2015, Arqiva has been working hard building the new national transmission network and we are delighted to have delivered this in record time. We are also pleased to be able to be bringing next generation DAB+ to the market for the first time as well as additional diversity of channels such as Jazz FM, Fun Kids, Asian and Christian channels.”

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By Expat