Digital radio boost for Londoners

24 April 2012 #SMMT News

Digital Radio UK press release

Londoners got a big digital radio boost today with the switching on of landmark new digital radio transmitters on the BT Tower, in time for the London 2012 Olympic Games and the announcement of details of a new Olympics-only digital radio station today.

Olympic gold medal winner Dame Kelly Holmes and Colin Murray switched on the new digital radio transmitters, which together with three recent landmark transmitters around London, give a stronger digital signal to over 9 million listeners and deliver digital radio to nearly one million Londoners for the first time. This collaboration, between the broadcasters, multiplex operators, Arqiva, and BT Wholesale, is the culmination of a two-year programme of investment in digital transmitters around London.

There’s good news for car drivers and commuters too. For them the boost means a robust digital radio signal on 99% of the London road network within the M25, including the Olympic Route Network.

Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, welcomed the boost to London digital radio coverage signal. He said that good progress was being made on the Digital Radio Action Plan, and that 23% of new cars in March 2012 were fitted with digital radio as standard, compared with 11% in March 2011 (source CAP/SMMT).

BMW, official Automotive Partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, has announced that a substantial proportion of the official Gamesfleet will be fitted with digital radio. This is in parallel to recently introducing digital radio as standard on all new MINIs.

Tim Davie, the BBC Director of Audio and Music, confirmed the launch of the national digital-only station BBC Radio 5 Live Olympics Extra, which will carry exclusive coverage for the duration of the Games. He emphasised that with this digital boost, Londoners do not need to miss a thing of the 2012 summer of sport, as 5 Live and its two sister digital stations would be working together to fully cover the London Olympics, Euro 2012, Wimbledon and International Test cricket. BBC Radio 5 Live Olympics Extra is a temporary digital-only station.

Stuart Taylor, CEO of GMG Radio, also welcomed the boost and said that it would improve radio listening for Londoners who get a huge choice of over 60 stations on digital radio, including a wide variety of music, sport, news, and language stations such as French, Polish, Punjabi and Russian, reflecting the diversity of life in London.

London leads the UK in the take-up of digital radio, with 56% of all radio listeners listening to digital radio, and 35% of all radio listening on a digital platform. Digital listening in London has been growing at a rate of over 23% per year, and if maintained will rise to 50% of all listening by mid-2014.

With 64 stations available on digital radio in London, and 37 of them digital-only, listeners should use the postcode checker at to see what stations they can get in their area.

Dame Kelly Holmes said:  “I’m delighted to switch on the digital radio London Boost – which will help Londoners to follow the progress of Team GB at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Minister Ed Vaizey said: “These new digital radio transmitters are excellent news for the people of London. More than nine million people will receive better digital radio coverage in time for the Games thanks to today’s switch-on.”

Tim Davie, BBC Director of Audio and Music, said: “I’m delighted to confirm the launch of digital-only station BBC Radio 5 Live Olympics Extra. Together with Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra this new station will make sure that listeners need not miss a thing of the 2012 summer of sport.”

Stuart Taylor, CEO of GMG Radio, said: “The huge range of commercial digital radio stations available in London continues to grow, and reflects the wonderful diversity of this great city.”

Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, says:  “Londoners love digital radio with over half of all adults listening to digital radio every week. With the London signal boost and the launch of BBC Radio 5 Live Olympics Extra there’s never been a better time to get digital radio in London.”

BT’s Mick Wayman, MD, London 2012 programme, says: “As  the official communications services partner for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, BT is working to make London 2012 the most connected Games ever and able to help boost digital radio coverage for the capital will help us achieve that goal. It is great that such an iconic building as the BT Tower will play a prominent role in supporting communications during such an historic event.”

Paul Eaton, Head of Radio at Arqiva, says: “This is the culmination of two years’ work and industry collaboration to invest in digital radio transmitters for London.”

Photos from the event available on request from

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