Hundreds of new digital radio stations for local listeners

05 July 2019

Hundreds of new local digital radio stations could start broadcasting in the UK from next year, under proposals outlined by Ofcom today.

With over 40% of the UK’s radio listening now taking place on the Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) platform, today’s proposals mark a major step towards expanding local DAB coverage, giving listeners an even wider choice of new digital radio stations.

Small-scale DAB is cutting edge technology, pioneered in the UK by an Ofcom engineer. It provides local commercial, community and specialist music stations with a low-cost route to hitting the digital airwaves.

By using freely available software and computer technology to transmit digital radio services, small-scale DAB enables stations to broadcast to a relatively small geographic area.

To make the best use of valuable spectrum and give existing and new local stations the opportunity to broadcast digitally, we’re allocating airwaves previously occupied by business radio.[1]

Graham Plumb, Ofcom’s Director of Spectrum Broadcasting said: “People increasingly prefer digital radio, and by enabling smaller stations to join this digital revolution, we can broaden the choice for local listeners up and down the country.”

Following successful trials, we are now consulting on how we would implement Government legislation to create a framework for the licensing of small-scale DAB radio on a permanent basis [2].

We would like to hear from interested parties by Friday 4 October and intend to start advertising licences early next year.


1. Small-scale DAB will use airwaves which are already used by DAB elsewhere, so people can continue to use their existing radio to listen to the new stations, if they have a DAB+ set.

2.The Small-scale Radio Multiplex and Community Digital Radio Order 2019 was laid before Parliament on 20 June 2019.