Today, 19th August, the Portsmouth DAB multiplex celebrates its second anniversary of broadcasting. The multiplex is part of an Ofcom/DCMS trial to test the viability of low cost DAB transmission on a very local basis. In Portsmouth, the multiplex has blossomed from launching with just six services, to broadcasting twenty one services to the area covering a wide range of genres.
One of the original launch services is The Flash, a digital and internet community radio station based in Havant. Station Manager Martin Kirby said:
“I cannot believe that two very successful years have gone by since we started broadcasting on the Portsmouth DAB multiplex. The DAB platform has given our volunteer based station a real boost and new local listeners are discovering us on DAB all the time. We are very proud to be a part of this experiment locally, and hope to be on air in Portsmouth for many years to come”.
The services added to the Portsmouth DAB multiplex since launch cover a wide variety of formats from rock, pop, country, oldies, chart hits, easy listening and more. One of the new formats is a local ethnic station Awaaz FM. The first local DAB station for the ethnic communities of South Hampshire. Ali Beg, the project manager of Awaaz FM said:
“Thanks to the Portsmouth DAB multiplex, Awaaz FM is now the biggest ethnic radio station in this area. This was never possible before due to the high costs of traditional DAB multiplexes. The small scale DAB multiplex in Portsmouth clearly shows how community focused the new choice of services can be, and how effectively it reaches out to all members of the community and not just the traditional stations that we are used to, giving the area a much needed variety of stations to choose from!”
The Portsmouth DAB multiplex has been pushing the boundaries of DAB broadcasting. It launched within two months of being granted a licence from Ofcom, and has been broadcasting DAB+ services in the UK longer than any other operator. One of the longest operating DAB+ services is BFBS Portsmouth. Nick Beer, the Chief Development Officer at SSVC, the organisation behind BFBS, said:
“Working with Angel Radio on the Portsmouth DAB multiplex has allowed us to launch a trial radio service for our significant Royal Navy audience in the city. It also allowed us to trial DAB+ with minimum risk. Something which would otherwise have involved a lot more effort and expense launched very swiftly. Ash and the guys have been great partners in this and we look forward to working with them on an enduring and expanding basis.”
The majority of services broadcast DAB slideshow and are broadcast in stereo too. The multiplex is run by local community station Angel Radio with engineering support provided by local company Commtronix.
Ash Elford, Angel Radio’s Digital Development Manager said:
“It’s been an amazing two years for us in Portsmouth. We’ve demonstrated that we can just get on with things. Here in Portsmouth, we’re improving the listener experience with a broad range of formats, and many of the services feature local content too. And who says stereo is dead – 20 of our 21 services are in stereo! We’ve embraced DAB+ and DAB slideshow in a way that traditional multiplexes haven’t. I’d like to thank our service providers for working with us to enhance listener choice in the Portsmouth area. We’ve demonstrated that DAB doesn’t have to be difficult.”