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Radio Professionals Discuss Success of DAB in Birmingham

Attendees learned that capacity for further new DAB stations in Birmingham is now fully utilized

BIRMINGHAM, England � Over 100 radio industry people attended the Doing the DAB: Birmingham event on the evening of May 3 to hear about the developments of digital radio in the city, according to

Among the speakers were Caroline Martin, lunchtime host of BBC West Midlands and Ed James, host of Heart West Midlands� Heart Breakfast with Ed & Gemma; Rupert Upshon, BBC West Midlands; Graham Bryce, Bauer City Network; Mike Newman, Free Radio; Brett Spencer, BBC Asian Network; Matt Deegan, MuxCo; David Timpson, RT�; Dean Kavanagh, the Birmingham DAB mini-mux; radio historian David Lloyd; Phil Stuchfield, Jaguar Land Rover; Amy Southall, Midlands Officer, Student Radio Association; and Ford Ennals, Digital Radio UK.

Attendees learned that capacity for further new DAB stations in Birmingham is now fully utilized, and MuxCo�s Matt Deegan called on Ofcom to create a second local DAB multiplex for Birmingham. �Birmingham is a thriving media market and its current multiplex is full. It is unfair that whilst London has three local multiplexes offering a fantastic array of stations, Birmingham has just one city-wide multiplex. A second multiplex would open up competition for local businesses and provide listeners with a fresh variety of new services,� said Deegan.

David Timpson confirmed RT� Radio�s interest in launching services in the UK, including Birmingham, to serve the Irish Diaspora. �The small-scale DAB initiative in the UK has been one of the most refreshing developments in the last number of years, and RT� is working with Ofcom to meet regulatory requirements which would allow us launch a radio service in the UK via the small-scale muxes, including Birimingham. In addition RT� Radio is currently exploring the possibility of trialling the technology and model in Ireland,� Timpson said.

Total radio listening is growing in Birmingham, due to the growth in digital listening, which has doubled since 2010 and has offset a 20% decline in analog listening during the same period. Digital listening is 45.6% in Birmingham and DAB ownership is 65% � above the national averages, according to the same article. There are over 40 nationally-available stations, and 11 stations on the local Birmingham DAB multiplex, including BBC Radio West Midlands, Heart West Midlands, Free Radio Birmingham, Free Radio 80s, Smooth West Midlands, Absolute Classic Rock, Absolute Radio 90s, Magic Soul, Capital, Gold and Kiss Fresh.

The city�s small-scale trial mini-mux, which is operated by Switch Digital, offers a further 16 commercial and community stations, including Radio Central, serving the local Pakistani community; Angel Vintage, a station for the over 60s; and Unity FM, broadcasting to Birmingham�s Muslim community. �We�re proud to have made our multiplex anything but �small� in terms of its aspirations. Our services cover a wide variety of styles that mirror the great diversity of our local community and a service from RT� serving Birmingham�s Irish community would be a fantastic and popular addition,� Dean Kavanagh, Director, Switch Radio.