The government is giving Ofcom the power to renew two national commercial radio multiplex licences – Digital One Ltd Multiplex and Sound Digital Ltd Multiplex, due to expire in 2023 and 2028 respectively – until December 2035.
The move will mean audiences across the UK will enjoy uninterrupted access to the huge range of radio content available from the country’s national commercial broadcasters through their digital devices on a free-to-air basis.
Well-known stations on the Digital One Ltd Multiplex include Absolute Radio, Capital and Smooth. Listeners can find the likes of Jazz FM and Talk Radio on the Sound Digital Ltd Multiplex.
Media Minister Julia Lopez said:
Radio’s distinctive and much-loved format means it continues to be at the heart of people’s lives. Today we are confirming plans to extend radio multiplex licences until 2035 so our hugely popular stations can continue to reach audiences through digital radio networks and we can give broadcasters the certainty they need to invest in their future services.
Radio is extremely popular in the UK. Almost 9 in 10 adults listen to their favourite stations every week. But technological developments mean more people choose to listen to their favourite stations on digital devices and terrestrial broadcast digital (DAB) radio is now the most popular way people listen to radio programmes in the UK.
A digital radio multiplex is a service which groups a number of different radio stations onto one frequency. It differs from analogue (FM/AM) broadcasting where a single signal is broadcast.
Multiplexes allow radio broadcasters to use the spectrum – the airwaves over which all wireless communications devices communicate – to be allocated more efficiently and give listeners more choice on digital radio.
Renewing the two multiplex licences via a Legislative Reform Order will also provide long-term continuity for various national commercial stations to broadcast digitally.