Radio industry figureheads celebrate the 5th Anniversary of the Portsmouth DAB multiplex

We asked the services on our multiplex and radio industry figureheads for their thoughts about the Portsmouth DAB multiplex celebrating it’s 5th anniversary. This is what radio industry figureheads had to say…

Graham Dixon, Head of Radio, European Broadcasting Union
“When DAB was introduced, it massively enlivened the European radio scene with the launch of imaginative services in the newly available spectrum. With the extension into small-scale DAB radio, this went a step further, as different interest groups and communities were able to find a voice in broadcast radio, one which would have never been open to them before. 

Celebrating your fifth birthday, you are rightly recognized among the pioneers, but it is really encouraging to report, that our latest EBU research shows 624 small-scale services in six European countries, including the impressive 221 in the UK.  We have Denmark, France, Germany, Poland and Switzerland all active in this area, with creative people – such as yourselves – finding new ways of engaging and delighting audiences in ways which this technology has uniquely facilitated.  Happy birthday!”

Bernie O’Neill, Project Director, WorldDAB
“Congratulations to everyone at Angel Radio for 5 years of DAB! Angel Radio has been an early pioneer of small scale DAB, with an inspirational story that has been a joy to witness. 

The UK leads the way when it comes to community radio stations powered by small scale DAB and Angel Radio’s story on how small-scale DAB offers smaller local and community radio stations an affordable and achievable route to go on air is of great interest to broadcasters far beyond the UK. For this reason four years ago WorldDAB invited Ash Elford to share the Angel Radio story with the international broadcast radio community at our annual conference in Vienna, Austria. Small scale DAB services are also on air in Switzerland, France, and with several other countries actively planning to follow.  

Angel Radio has won several awards over the years, testimony to the value you bring to your community of listeners. Congratulations, and best wishes to you and your volunteers for a long and successful future at Angel Radio!”

William Rogers, former Chairman, UKRD Group
“As consolidation within the commercial radio sector proceeds apace, and, the consequences for local communities, local news, local engagement and proper local radio become ever more clear, the focus on alternative methods and platforms to bring back proper local radio to local communities suffering its removal, or loss, becomes ever more important. 

Whilst there’s no question that the launch of DAB more generally has been a costly and appallingly badly handled initiative for the best part of two decades, ironically, it’s now small scale DAB that may yet present the opportunity to local communities and operators to deliver those broadcasting component parts of what has been taken from them.

Assuming it’s given the underlying infrastructural strength and resource so readily denied to smaller scale FM stations, when they were launched all those years ago, there’s no reason why it can’t ultimately compete for a share of local “ears” in many parts of the UK. We must all keep our fingers crossed that this opportunity is not as equally as badly served and squandered as all too many other commercial radio initiatives have been by both those in power and those who regulate.

Get it right and get on with it!”  

James Cridland, Radio Futurologist
“The small scale DAB trial in the UK has been something that has been a real success, and has meant a lot of new stations on the air that otherwise would never have been heard.

Great to hear about the Portsmouth DAB multiplex celebrating its fifth birthday; and for your success in being possibly the most innovative DAB multiplex out there. Here’s to many more!”

John Bibby, Managing Director, Bitstream Broadcast
“For many years we were convinced that DAB could be done much more efficiently for smaller groups who were prepared to take some risk and not requiring a 24/7 gold standard high cost service, they could maintain the systems themselves (with a little expert help of course).

Sensing it was time for the little guys to have their day we threw ourselves into development of a DAB compatible RF amplifier and an on channel repeater (OCR). In a very short period of time we had what became the standard offering by OFCOM, still in use today and having proved very reliable it became the basis for a more refined, updated and robust version that we hope will form the RF backbone for future small scale DAB licensees.

With the excellent steerage and support by Rash, David and other OFCOM engineers the future for small scale DAB seems bright, even despite recent events. In particular the recent loss of so much “proper local radio” to us seems a real opportunity to provide a new, genuinely local radio service to the good people of the UK, something which we know there is a real demand for.

To Portsmouth DAB and indeed to all small scale DAB players “Happy 5th Birthday” and we hope to partner and support you all in the future.”

Daniel Nathan, Director, Brighton & Hove Broadcasting (operators of the Brighton small scale DAB multiplex) and Director,
“Since launching the first recognised UK trial multiplex in Brighton in July 2015 we’ve seen clear demand across the country for DAB as an incremental platform for new entry level broadcasters but also as an add on for FM broadcasters at a proportionate price point.

The trial multiplexes have blazed a trail with distinctive programming, new formats, DAB+, slideshow as well as improved stereo sound quality and reception when compared with the legacy multiplexes and the technology is on the whole reliable considering the modest cost.   

Contrary to the expectations of legacy providers, the trial has not caused any issue with adjacent channel interference to their services – it seems perverse that established interests wield so much influence over our development. All roads lead to Arqiva and we have no access to the tools they use to pass judgement. The trial has been liberating and allows us to throw off the monopolist’s yoke.  It would be a shame if the market abused turned market abuser.”

Bill Best,Operations Director, Community Media Association
“Well done to Ash and the Solent Wireless team on five years of small-scale DAB. The Portsmouth multiplex has shown the way with pushing the boundaries of the technology and introducing a fantastic range of new programme formats. All of us at the Community Media Association wish Ash and his colleagues every success for the future as we shortly enter a new phase of radio broadcasting in the UK”.