Sound Digital switch-on and Big Retune

Tuesday 1 March 2016

The Sound Digital national DAB multiplex network was officially switched on today by the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP. Mr Whittingdale performed the official switch-on with Steve Holebrook, Managing Director of Arqiva Terrestrial Broadcast and Chairman of Sound Digital, and Planet Rock Breakfast presenter, Paul Anthony at an industry conference, Drive to Digital: National Now, hosted by talkSPORT presenter, Colin Murray.

Mr Whittingdale also launched the national Big Retune campaign, urging listeners to retune their digital radios to take full advantage of the range of services now available.

Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP, Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, said: “The launch of this new DAB network with 18 national stations is a tremendous step forward for digital radio. It means listeners around the UK have a greater choice of stations than ever before. All the public need to do is retune their digital radios so they can get the most out of the fantastic choice now available.”

To find out how to retune your digital radio and receive the 18 stations carried on the Sound Digital network visit www.getdigitalradio.com/retune.

Date set for biggest ever commercial radio launch

Wednesday 3 February 2016

Launch of 18 national stations signals a new era for digital radio

Sound 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:

talkRADIO

UTV Media

News and current affairs

talkSPORT2

UTV Media

Live sports and sports talk

Virgin Radio

UTV Media

Rock and pop music

Share Radio

Share Radio

Business and finance programmes

Mellow Magic

Bauer Media

Relaxing and melodic music

Magic Chilled

Bauer Media

A second sister channel from one of the UK’s most popular music stations

Absolute 80s

Bauer Media

80s music

Kisstory

Bauer Media

‘Old skool’ dance tunes and anthems

Heat

Bauer Media

Pop music, celebrity gossip and entertainment

Planet Rock

Bauer Media

Classic rock music

Sunrise Radio

Sunrise Radio

Asian music and speech programmes

Awesome Radio

Asian Sound

New British Muslim lifestyle, music and speech station

UCB 2

United Christian Broadcasters

Christian music

Premier Christian Radio

Premier Media Group

Christian music and speech

Premier Praise

Premier Media Group

A brand new station from one of the UK’s leading Christian broadcasting groups

Panjab Radio

Panjab Radio

Delivering extra choice for British Sikhs and Panjabi speakers

Fun Kids (DAB+)

Folder Media

National children’s radio station

Jazz FM (DAB+)

Jazz FM

Jazz music

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.”

Sound Digital Welcomes Ofcom’s Award of New National Digital Radio Licence

Friday 27 March 2015

Sound Digital, a joint venture company formed by Arqiva, Bauer Media & UTV, warmly welcomes Ofcom’s decision to award the company a licence to operate a national DAB multiplex licence in the United Kingdom. Sound Digital’s application emphasised its commitment to delivering a step-change in choice for listeners within 12 months of Ofcom’s decision and work to fulfil this commitment will start immediately.

As outlined in the company’s application, the line-up comprises popular, well-loved brands which will be entirely or predominantly exclusive to digital radio. Sound Digital’s network is projected to reach 46 million people and an estimated 88% of vehicles on the move, and the consortium will initiate a high-impact promotional campaign for launch, which will be coordinated with partners including retailers, manufacturers and the vehicle industry.

The radio services set to be launched are as follows:

News and current affairs

Live sports and sports talk

Business and finance programmes

Rock and pop music

‘Old skool’ dance tunes and anthems

Relaxing and melodic music

Pop music, celebrity gossip and entertainment

Classic rock music

80s music

Asian music and speech programmes

Asian music and speech, with elements of Islamic content

Christian music

Christian music and speech

Jazz music

A service to stimulate take-up of DAB+ compatible radios

Sound Digital’s line-up of 15 services leaves capacity for additional content providers to join the network prior to launch. Sound Digital is in discussions with a number of parties interested in accessing this capacity and intends to issue a further advertisement for expressions of interest shortly. It will also be inviting proposals from broadcasters interested in operating the DAB+ channel included as part of its launch line-up.

Steve Holebrook, Managing Director of Arqiva Terrestrial Broadcast, said: “We are delighted that Ofcom has awarded the licence to Sound Digital. Our aim is to bring more listening choice to the radio market and in conjunction with our content partners we will immediately start the process of rolling out the network. We will be launching with a great line-up that will help to further drive DAB take-up.”

Dee Ford, Group Managing Director Radio, Bauer Media, said: “This decision benefits both listeners and advertisers alike, by offering a wider choice of high quality speech and music radio content. This consortium offers an accessible approach to digital radio content providers and our network’s cost-effectiveness ensures the long-term viability of these radio services for all parties”.

Scott Taunton, Chief Operating Officer, UTV Media plc, said: “We’re thrilled to have been awarded the licence and look forward to starting work on launching the new stations. talkSPORT 2, talkBUSINESS and talkRADIO will challenge the BBC’s dominance of speech radio while Virgin Radio is a much loved brand returning to the airwaves. Today’s decision by Ofcom is exciting news for UTV, our Sound Digital partners and the radio industry as a whole.”

Sound Digital restates its unequivocal commitment

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Sound Digital has restated its commitment to expanding national radio choice in a short submission to Ofcom which was made yesterday (Monday 2 March). This follows the regulator’s invitation for comments on the applications for a new national commercial DAB multiplex licence, which encouraged feedback from both industry and listeners.

Sound Digital’s submission is addressed to the wider digital radio industry as well as to Ofcom. As well as providing assurance of Sound Digital’s commitment to following through on its ambitious proposals, Sound Digital has used this opportunity to highlight the ways in which its application fosters competition across national digital radio.

15 exciting new national radio stations expanding choice for listeners

Thursday 29 January 2015

Sound Digital, the joint venture company formed by Arqiva, Bauer and UTV in 2014, has today unveiled its ambition to deliver a step-change in choice for listeners by providing access to 15 distinctive national digital radio stations. The plans are detailed in Sound Digital’s application to operate the licence for the UK’s second national commercial DAB multiplex.

Sound Digital’s goal is to play a leading role in the development of digital radio. This will be driven by the unprecedented strength of the digital-only brands broadcast on its network, its strategy for promoting digital take-up and the financial security provided by its shareholders’ firm commitments to the company.

Sound Digital’s line-up comprises popular, well-loved brands which will be entirely or predominantly exclusive to digital radio:

Independent research by YouGov with over 4000 adults shows very strong collective appeal for Sound Digital’s stations, with 79% saying that they would listen to at least one of the stations.

Each of Sound Digital’s 15 services is fully committed under binding commitments made by the shareholders and by third party content providers, providing certainty to Ofcom that Sound Digital will deliver on its licence application proposals.

Sound Digital’s planned transmission network is differentiated from the existing national multiplex by its focus on digital-only stations including start-up operators and new entrants. The network balances cost-effectiveness with high quality national coverage, reaching over 46 million people and an estimated 88% of vehicles on the move.

The presence within Sound Digital’s line-up of recognised brands which will be exclusive to digital radio heralds a major new chapter for the DAB platform. To realise this potential, Sound Digital will initiate a high-impact promotional strategy for digital radio, coordinated with partners including retailers, manufacturers and the vehicle industry. Sound Digital is committing media support and cross-promotion worth £15m over six years.

If awarded the UK’s second national DAB multiplex licence by Ofcom, Sound Digital will launch its network within 12 months.

Steve Holebrook, Managing Director of Arqiva Terrestrial Broadcast, said: “Sound Digital’s goal is to play a leading role in the development of digital radio. Our application pools our collective experience, expertise and financial backing to provide certainty that Sound Digital will deliver on its commitment to build and launch a new national digital radio network within 12 months of Ofcom’s decision, and to maintain the network for the full 12 year licence term.”

Dee Ford, Group Managing Director Radio, Bauer Media, said: “Sound Digital’s proposals are fantastic news for radio listeners, with an unprecedented expansion of choice in speech and music radio content. As well as providing expansion opportunities for existing successful digital broadcasters like Bauer, our network’s cost-effectiveness and open and accessible approach ensure that Sound Digital caters to the full range of digital radio content providers.”

Scott Taunton, Chief Operating Officer, UTV Media plc, said: “Sound Digital’s plans combine popular, well-loved brands such as the return of Virgin Radio with unique content including three brand new speech radio stations. The result will be a major increase in choice for audiences that already have digital radio, and a surge in take-up from those that don’t. This is fantastic news not just for listeners but for the wider radio industry.”

Sound Digital prepares to announce its vision for digital radio’s future

Monday 12 January 2015

With under three weeks to go until Ofcom’s deadline for bids for a new national digital radio licence, Sound Digital is pleased to announce that it will be unveiling its application plans to invited media and industry guests at an exclusive breakfast event.

The launch event will take place at London’s Soho Hotel at 8am on Friday 30th January, with bids due in to Ofcom by 5pm the previous afternoon.

An invited audience of media and industry guests will be in attendance as Sound Digital unveils its vision for the next chapter in digital radio’s future. Speakers at the event will include Arqiva’s Steve Holebrook, Bauer’s Dee Ford and UTV’s Scott Taunton.

Press and industry colleagues interested in receiving further details of the event should contact rsvp@sounddigital.co.uk.


Arqiva, Bauer and UTV confirm intention to submit a joint licence application

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Sound Digital is a joint venture company formed by Arqiva, Bauer & UTV to bid for the second licence to operate a national DAB multiplex licence in the United Kingdom ("D2"). This follows the advertisement of the D2 licence by Ofcom on Tuesday 1 July, and Ofcom's statement that the new licence could offer capacity for around ten new national radio stations.

The consortium combines two of the UK's leading commercial radio broadcasters with the UK's leading provider of broadcast transmission services. Each of the participants in the consortium is also a long-standing operator of DAB digital radio multiplexes in the UK.

UTV Media (GB) owns 13 regional radio stations and is the company behind talkSPORT, the world's biggest sports radio station.

Bauer Media UK reaches over 22 million UK consumers every week through a portfolio of world-class, multi-platform media and entertainment brands. Bauer Radio reaches over 16 million listeners every week (a quarter of all adults in the UK) with 43 of the most influential radio brands across the country, including Magic FM, KISS FM and Absolute Radio.

The consortium is inviting third parties to express an interest in operating new national radio stations as part of its licence application. Arqiva is the contact point for interested parties and has today issued an advertisement inviting expressions of interest. The ad is available on Arqivaís website at www.arqiva.com/d2.

Steve Holebrook, Managing Director of Terrestrial Broadcast at Arqiva said, "Radio's future is undoubtedly digital and we are delighted to be working with Bauer and UTV to bid for the second national DAB multiplex licence which will help to realise that digital future. Our consortium has the necessary credentials to deliver this new network, and if our bid is successful we expect the result to be a significant broadening of choice for radio listeners."

Paul Keenan, Chief Executive, Bauer Media UK said "A new national DAB licence presents an exciting opportunity for listeners to discover new radio services and for us and the commercial radio industry to further extend reach and service. D2 will further accelerate digital growth in the UK".

Scott Taunton, Managing Director of UTV Media (GB) said "Ofcom's advertisement of a new national DAB licence represents a vote of confidence for radio's continuing relevance and strength as a broadcast medium. In Arqiva and Bauer we believe we have identified the right partners for UTV to formulate a bid for this licence and we look forward to developing our plans over the coming months."

Who are Sound Digital?

Sound Digital operates the UK's second national commercial DAB multiplex network. The network launched on Monday 29th February 2016, bringing 18 national digital radio stations to listeners.

Sound Digital combines two of the UK's leading commercial radio broadcasters (Bauer Media and Wireless Group) with the UK's leading provider of broadcast transmission services (Arqiva). The consortium’s shared goal is to play a leading role in the development of digital radio.

What do I need to do to receive the radio stations carried on Sound Digital’s network?

To receive the full range of stations in your area you will need to retune your digital radio

To retune, select the Autotune or AutoScan button or menu option on your DAB digital radio or. It usually takes no more than a minute for your radio to update the station list.

For more information visit www.getdigitalradio.com/retune

How can I find out if I live in a coverage area?

To find out if you can receive the Sound Digital network you should use the postcode checker at www.getdigitalradio.com.

If your home is in a coverage area you may need to extend your aerial or place your digital radio in different location in order to receive a signal.

Why are you not covering the whole of the UK from launch?

Our transmission network has been engineered to cover 77% of UK households from launch, achieving an optimum combination of national coverage and cost-effectiveness for digital radio stations. This approach has enabled us to attract 18 distinctive radio stations to the network.

We have also taken careful account of the tendency of people to listen to the radio in lots of different ways today, including FM, digital radio, digital television, the internet and through their mobile phones. If you would like to listen to one of our stations outside of a DAB coverage area, then you should be able to do so through at least one of these platforms.

Do you have any plans to expand your coverage network?

We plan to keep the Sound Digital coverage network and future expansion options under review, in consultation with the radio stations carried on our network and taking account of listener feedback.

Can I listen to your stations via other platforms such as TV or mobile apps?

Sound Digital is solely responsible for the national DAB digital radio network that our stations are carried on. To find out what other platforms individual stations are available on, such digital television and the internet, please consult individual radio station websites.

Why can I only receive some of the stations carried on the Sound Digital network?

Some of the stations carried on our network are also carried on other DAB digital radio networks. This will mean that some listeners can pick up our stations in areas not directly covered by the Sound Digital network.

To find out which stations are available via DAB digital radio in your area, you can use the postcode checker at www.getdigitalradio.com.

In addition, some stations carried on Sound Digital’s network use newer DAB+ technology. DAB+ uses less bandwidth than traditional DAB. This allows Sound Digital to carry more stations, expanding listener choice. However not all digital radios can receive DAB+ stations.

To find out if your digital radio supports DAB+ you should consult your manual or look for the Digital Radio tick-mark.