London (July 1, 2014)--Digital Radio UK and the UK''s automotive industry today welcomed OFCOM''s advertisement for a second national commercial network of radio stations on DAB. The launch of ‘Digital Two'' could provide the capacity for over 15 further national radio stations and likewise lead to the launch of new digital-only stations.
It is thought there will be a number of bidders for Digital Two, as the national network is known, and that a winner would be announced at the end of 2014. The license for Digital Two was previously awarded in 2007 to a consortium, the 4 Digital Group, led by Channel 4, including BSkyB and UTV. Channel 4 ultimately decided not to proceed and pulled out but OFCOM chose to protect the spectrum for future use. The UK Government''s Communications Minister Ed Vaizey announced that Digital Two would be advertised in 2014 by OFCOM at a speech at the Go Digital Conference in December 2013.
OFCOM recently held a consultation on the Broadcasting Technical Code for DAB which included the use of DAB+ for up to 30% of the new Digital Two capacity. The current national commercial network, a group of stations known as Digital One, broadcasts 14 national commercial radio stations on DAB to around 90% of the UK population. These radio stations are listened to by over 10 million people and they have successfully increased listening by 25% in the last year. Since 2007 the number of DAB digital radios sold across the UK has tripled to almost 20 million; nearly 50% of UK homes now have a digital radio, and 55% of new cars have digital radio fitted as a standard feature.
A new minimum specification and digital tick mark for UK radios also announced by Minister Ed Vaizey is currently being rolled out, and includes both DAB and DAB+ standards.