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The emergence of the software enabled approach to broadcasting on DAB radio and its developing maturity as a workable and practical technology has the potential to provide smaller commercial and community radio stations with a practical and cost effective way of broadcasting on a terrestrial digital platform; and ensure these stations will not be left behind by a future shift of radio from FM and AM to digital.
DCMS funded technical work by Ofcom including 10 field trials in towns and cities has demonstrated the viability of using an open source software based approach to broadcasting on DAB at a small scale. However, the licensing arrangements for the 10 trials are not a suitable basis for the long-term licensing of small scale DAB radio multiplexes. To address this DCMS supported the successful passage of a Private Member’s Bill, introduced by Kevin Foster MP, through Parliament in early 2017. The Broadcasting (Radio Multiplex Services) Act 2017 gives the Secretary of State a power to modify through secondary legislation the provisions under existing broadcasting legislation that are concerned with the award of radio multiplex licences. Our aim is create a lighter touch regulatory regime that is more suitable for small scale radio multiplexes. Therefore the Government now wants to take views from commercial radio and community radio on the best approach of licensing small scale DAB radio multiplexes.
We welcome comments from individuals and organisations involved in the commercial and community radio sectors, including members of the public who hold an interest in commercial and/or community radio.