Broadcast media regulator Ofcom is to make 10 new digital radio stations available in a belated boost for the industry.
The auction of a second national digital radio “multiplex” — the airwaves needed to broadcast digitally — will allow around 10 new Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) stations to be broadcast.
It is seven years since Ofcom first made the multiplex available in an ill-fated auction won by a Channel 4-led consortium. The multiplex never launched because of a lack of demand.
The first commercial radio multiplex, called Digital One, debuted in 1999 and is run by broadcasting firm Arqiva. The BBC has its own multiplex.
Only 36.6% of listening is via digital radio — a stark contrast to TV, which went completely digital in 2012.
However, the outcry when the BBC tried to close digital station 6Music, whose DJs include Lauren Laverne, showed digital has a loyal following.