MXR West Mids closes
DAB’s UK rollout echoed its analogue predecessor: tiers of national, local and regional services. As ever in our small Country, frequency availability was, however, at a premium. That meant no regional multiplex for the East Mids, no local Mx at all in some areas, and the frequencies on the South Coast risking opening garage door in France. Apparently.
As the Government, the regulators and many of the companies banged their heads together, it appeared the only way to get what the BBC lovingly call UK ‘universality’ for local services, was to borrow some regional frequencies from areas lucky enough to have both a local and a regional Mx and use them to bring DAB to other areas. Share it out a bit.
Thus, the North East, North West, West Midlands and South Wales lost their regional multiplexes in Summer 2013, as their 12 year licences expired. DAB’s future will be as a local and national platform. This Boo heralds those closures in the West Mids.
To suggest that opinions vary on this strategy would be an understatement. It’s good news, clearly, for those who may now get their DAB local services, at last. But, for listeners who bought their DAB radios so they might get ‘new services’, the range has diminished. It would be greater were all the available local slots filled by services 'new' to the area (even if existing elsewhere), but they are often replete with local FM simulcast services, given that the regulations dictate that stations must simulcast unless they want their licences put up for competitive renewal. So, for those stations, it means hugely increased transmission costs for no more listeners, and for listeners, hugely decreased choice. It sort of made sense when FM was to be closed down, but now that analogue is likely to live on for smaller services anyway, it all appears a little odd.
In truth, DAB is far too complex a topic for a Boo description. I feel a blog looming.