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Your questions answered
What is being proposed?
At the moment only national stations (like Radio 1 or Classic FM) are available on DAB digital radio in North Devon. The local stations Heart and BBC Devon are available on digital in South Devon but not in North Devon.
Ofcom, the industry regulator, has been asked to give the go-ahead to broadcasting the local stations in North Devon on DAB digital radio as well as on FM. Heart’s parent company Global Radio is prepared to fund this investment and to extend the digital radio network in South Devon into North Devon. Before they make their decision, Ofcom are asking people what they think. Despite what you might have heard it is not the end of local radio in North Devon.
Why is this a good thing for listeners ?
If the plans go ahead, listeners with DAB digital radios will be able to continue to hear local stations Heart and BBC Devon plus receive extra stations like Absolute Classic Rock, Capital, Kiss FM and XFM that are not available on FM. Listeners will still be able to hear stations on FM.
As well as providing much more choice, digital radio has a number of other benefits:-
Will this mean we won't hear Heart any more or any of our favourite stations?
No. Heart and BBC Devon will continue to broadcast on FM as well as being available on digital radio.
What services will listeners be able to hear?
In addition to Heart and BBC Devon, which will also continue on FM, the following new services will launch: Absolute Classic Rock, Capital, Gold, KISS, NME Radio and XFM. National stations will also continue to be heard on FM and DAB digital radio
Will we still be able to listen on FM?
Yes. Everyone who can receive FM today will still be able to do so.
A digital switchover in radio, similar to what is happening in TV, is a long term ambition but no decision has been made on whether this will happen, let alone when. The Government has said that no switchover will happen until digital coverage matches FM and the vast majority of listeners are listening on digital. FM will continue to be available for local listeners as long as it is necessary.
Will everyone be able to get digital radio?
In order to receive the new digital services a new transmitter network will be built. Coverage will grow over time, from 50% of homes in North Devon at launch growing to 70% after 2013 as more people buy digital radios. More transmitters would be needed after that to match FM coverage.
Will this be the end of local radio?
No. Heart (and BBC Devon) will continue to provide the local content we currently do on FM. The proposals will make it possible for more local stations to launch. Initially, the new digital services will be the same in North and South Devon but in the future it will be possible for different stations to broadcast in North and South Devon on digital.
Ofcom are currently advertising new community radio licences. Anyone can apply to operate a community station on FM in North Devon, though these stations cannot currently sell advertising. A community station can also broadcast on digital radio, where they can carry as much advertising as they like.
How will DAB digital radio help the people and business in North Devon prosper?
Other parts of the country benefit from having digital radio and North Devon should not be left behind.
Businesses in North Devon need a successful local radio station with a large audience to help grow their businesses. Being able to advertise on digital radio as well as FM is a benefit.
How can I find out more about this and have my say?
You can read the Ofcom consultation and have your say at http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/dab-north-devon/. You can also post any questions below and we will reply.