BBC Radio Cumbria To Go DAB+

Page last updated on November 29th, 2021 at 02:05 pm

BBC Radio Cumbria is joining digital radio for the first time next Wednesday, with the station joining the new Carlisle/North Cumbria and Morecambe Bay DAB multiplexes. Both multiplexes are expected to launch on 1st December (2021), and are operated by Bauer Media and Muxco Cumbria respectively.

However, unlike most BBC stations, and following in the footsteps of BBC Radio Guernsey and BBC Radio Jersey, the station will use the newer DAB+ format. Reasons for this are unknown, as the BBC have 128 kbps of space reserved on each multiplex, enough to broadcast in joint stereo using normal DAB.

There is some speculation suggesting that the BBC may use the Morecambe Bay multiplex to improve coverage of BBC Radio Lancashire to the north of that station’s coverage area. Speculation also suggests that the BBC may use spillover from the North Cumbria multiplex to broadcast BBC Radio Scotland on digital radio to parts of south west Scotland, but this appears less likely.

In any case, the use of DAB+ will mean that some listeners with incompatible DAB radios will be unable to access BBC Radio Cumbria on digital radio.

Mono Future for London DAB

Recent changes to DAB in London have seen two Bauer Media operated stations lose stereo DAB transmissions.

Ahead of the 105.8 FM frequency switching to Greatest Hits Radio, Absolute Radio has now been removed from the London 1 DAB multiplex. The station also broadcasts on the D1 National multiplex, but unlike the former 128 kbps joint stereo slot on London 1, this is mono only.

Hits Radio (London) has also switched to 80 kbps mono from 128 kbps joint stereo, this time on the London 2 multiplex. This move has allowed Absolute Radio 70s to return to the London 2 multiplex, also using 80 kbps mono DAB. Absolute Radio 70s had previously vacated the multiplex to make way from Hits Radio to join.

Lastly, Absolute Radio 10s is now available on the London 1 multiplex, but uses DAB+ at 48 kbps stereo. Older radios may not receive this service, but listeners should get reasonable sound quality from a higher than usualy DAB+ standard bit rate. However, the new service largerly falls into the saturated pop music market.

In general, these changes mean poorer sound quality, and in the case of Absolute Radio, poorer access to services. This is partially offset by the additional services, but these bring nothing new to the saturated pop music market, and it could be argued that the changes mean a poorer DAB service for residents of the London area.