DAB costs slashed by Digital One

The cost of entry for those looking to set up national digital radio stations will come down in 2009
The cost of entry for those looking to set up national digital radio stations will come down in 2009

DAB radio has come under fire in recent years from both audiophiles who criticise the service's sound quality and regional commercial stations who criticise the costs involved in setting up digital stations.

In what might prove a good shot in the arm for the digital radio industry in 2009, national digital operator Digital One responded this month by cutting the set-up costs.

"It is good to see Digital One responding to the recommendations of the government's Digital Radio Working Group," said Pure Digital's marketing director, Colin Crawford.

"And we applaud any initiative that promotes the setting up of new digital radio stations," he added.

Digital One has four national stations – Absolute Radio, talkSPORT, Classic FM and Planet Rock with capacity for at least six further national digital stations.

A number of digital stations have closed down in recent months, including TheJazz, OneWord, Core and Capital Life, due to the high costs involved.

High costs, nominal returns

Glyn Jones, acting chief executive of Digital One, told the MediaGuardian this week that they were "looking hard" at lowering carriage costs to potential customers.

Jones added that they are "expecting that stakeholders involved in the working group, and other companies with the ambition to launch new national radio stations in 2009, will set up and engage with a view to adding compelling new choice for consumers".

Digital One currently charges over £1m a year to radio operators who want to broadcast a station on the national digital service, which currently hits over 90 per cent of the UK population.

The cost-cutting move follows the government's Digital Radio Working Group (DRWG) report on the digital radio switchover, with the government still to set a date on analogue radio switch-off.

MediaGuardian adds that: "A second national commercial DAB multiplex was due to be launched by the 4 Digital consortium, but that's now unlikely to happen after lead shareholder Channel 4 announced it was pulling the plug on its radio projects."

Adam Hartley