Ofcom has announced it is awarding the licence for the second national DAB network to Sound Digital – a consortium of Arqiva, Bauer Media and UTV Media, on the grounds that it would “best promote the development of digital sound broadcasting.” Nadia Khashem, from Carat’s broadcast team, explains why digital radio has so much to offer.

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The second digital radio multiplex has been a long time coming; the first multiplex was awarded seven years ago by Ofcom.

The decision was made by Ofcom in less than two months, which means the other bid submitted by Orion Media and Partners miss out on going ahead with their proposal.

Sound Digital will be launching 15 new DAB channels in March 2016, as well as bringing back Virgin Radio to UK airwaves.

Virgin Radio was rebranded as Absolute Radio back in 2008 in the UK but remains in a number of countries around the world.


Below is a full list of the stations:

  • Virgin Radio - rock and pop music
  • Talk Radio - news and current affairs
  • Talk Sport 2 - live sport and sports talk
  • Talk Business - business and finance programmes
  • Absolute 80s - 80s music
  • Magic Mellow - relaxing and melodic music
  • Planet Rock - classic rock music
  • Heat Radio - pop music, celebrity gossip and entertainment
  • Kisstory - ‘old skool’ dance tunes and anthems
  • Jazz FM - jazz music
  • Sunrise Radio - Asian music and speech programmes
  • UCB Inspirational - Christian music
  • Premier Christian Radio - Christian music and speech
  • British Muslim Radio - Asian music and speech, with elements of Islamic content

So why is digital radio the future of radio in the UK?

  • Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy also recently announced the single biggest expansion of local digital radio coverage. This means that nearly 8 million more people will receive their favourite local stations on DAB. According to the latest RAJAR figures, in-home digital listening is overtaking analogue for the first time as well as making up for 37.9% of all digital listening, including cars.
  • DAB radio remains the most popular choice for digital listening. Latest figures show that 61% of new cars came with digital radio fitted as standard. Also 182 new digital transmitters will be built by 2015 meaning that the network of local digital transmitters will double.
  • With more stations and choice to be available for listeners and the continued increase in digital radio listening, the next few years should see a new shift in the radio market. This is an exciting time for radio as well as advertisers; the audience needs are changing and the radio market is helping to continue to meet the needs by setting up new stations and following trends.

How can marketers make the most of these new opportunities?

  • New stations will open up doors for advertisers to reach listeners in more ways nationally as well as more ways to target audiences more efficiently. A greater range of stations is coming on stream, allowing advertisers more choice to reach different target groups. Bespoke copy can be run across the wide range of stations, as well as being able to re-target through the digital ecosystem. Real-time advertising also becomes more effective as the target audience becomes more familiar.
  • As more situational and behavioural data becomes available, targeting specific groups of listeners will become more efficient and effective. The online model can be used to target more niche demographics and/or by interest, postcode, behaviour. There is the potential for geographically targeted campaigns to take off and advertising should become more and more personal to the individual.
  • Multi-platform advertising is becoming more successful and interactive ads are also likely to become more prevalent. As digital radio technology improves, listeners could be able to store and retrieve information, allowing marketers to increase the impact of direct response and call-to-action campaigns.
digital radio marketing advertising dab second dab sound digital ofcom
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