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.
Muxco Cumbria have confirmed that the forthcoming DAB multiplex for the Morecambe Bay area will launch on the 1st December.
The multiplex, which will also cover South Cumbria, will launch with a variety of national, local/regional, and community services. Included from launch will be BBC Radio Cumbria, community services Cando FM and Bay Trust Radio, and national services Capital, Heart, and Smooth Radio.
The multiplex coverage area will broadly mirror existing FM services, and will use a mixture of conventional DAB and the newer DAB+ format. Some older DAB radios will not be able to receive all stations.
Muxco Cumbria is a joint venture between Nation Broadcasting (owners of Nation Radio), and local DAB multiplex operator Muxco.
Ofcom is allowing an additional year for the licensees of three new local DAB multiplexes to launch, as detailed in the table.
||Original Launch Deadline
|North and West Cumbria
All three multiplex license holders are aiming to launch the services ahead of the deadline.