As expected, and widely promoted to listeners ahead of the change, UCB (United Christian Broadcasters) have switched to using DAB+ for both UCB1 and UCB2. Both stations are now on the D1 National DAB multiplex, and are using 24 kbps DAB+ stereo (from 56 kbps Mono LSF for UCB1, and 64 kbps Mono LSF for UCB2).
As part of this, UCB2 moved from the SDL National multiplex, and has now gained wider coverage by being on the D1 National multiplex. However, this is at the expense of sound quality, and some DAB radios will not be able to receive both stations at all, due to not being DAB+ compatible. UCB2 was removed from the SDL National multiplex without any recorded re-tune loop advising listeners to retune.
With UCB relinquishing space on the SDL National multiplex, and reducing overall bitrates on D1 National by a further 8 kbps, this represents a significant cost saving for UCB. Also on the SDL National multiplex, Sunrise Radio (national/London station) have also reduced their bit rate, dropping from 64 kbps to 56 kbps (retaining mono LSF).
In a separate move that has also taken place relatively recently, the three national Jack Media services; Union Jack, Union Jack Dance, and Union Jack Rock, has left the SDL National DAB multiplex. All three services remain available online, and the local Oxfordshire services remain unaffected. The reason for this change is yet to be confirmed.
A number of DAB changes took place towards the beginning of December (2020), and here’s a run down of the main stories.
Around the 1st, Great Yorkshire Radio migrated from the North Yorkshire local multiplex, to the Lincolnshire multiplex. The latter has some over spill into parts of North and East Yorkshire, and the station appears to be refocusing to become a larger regional service for Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. DAB+ at 32 kbps is still used.
York Mix (initially as festive service Xmas Mix), has now joined the North Yorkshire DAB multiplex. The station is targeting the area previously served by Minster FM, which closed earlier this year. Similar (but unconnected) service This Is The Coast is also on the North Yorkshire multiplex, targeting Scarborough, Bridlington, and Whitby, all left un-served when Yorkshire Coast Radio closed. Both are using stereo DAB+ at 32 kbps.
On the Central Scotland multiplex, Scottish Sun Chill has replaced Scottish Sun Greatest Hits. The new service has an easy listening/pop format, and retains 128 kbps of joint stereo normal DAB. No other changes have occurred on this multiplex since Sunoh Radio left, but Central FM has been run in varying configurations.
Lastly, and perhaps the biggest change, is the launch of Union Jack Dance and Union Jack Rock, which took place on Friday 11th December. Both follow the same format of British music and comedy, with listener controlled playlist as Union Jack, but with dance music and rock music respectively. The same 32 kbps stereo DAB+ parameters are used, with Union Jack Dance replacing Jack Radio, and Union Jack Rock filling the vacant space on the SDL National multiplex.