Could BBC help radio stations to go digital?

Sunday 1st April 2018 3:54 am
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Jason Moorhouse MHK

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Could the BBC help local radio stations to broadcast digitally?

That was the question put to Chief Minister Howard Quayle in the House of Keys on Tuesday.

Jason Moorhouse (Arbory, Castletown and Malew) wanted to know what plans there were to bring the digital TV and radio coverage in the Isle of Man up to an equivalent level with the UK.

Currently, fewer Freeview television services are available from Manx relay transmitters than from the main masts in the UK.

The island’s three radio stations - EnergyFM, 3FM and government-subsidised Manx Radio - all broadcast on analogue frequencies and online.

Mr Quayle said any expansion of the digital network was a matter for broadcasters, but he understood there were no plans to extend digital radio or television coverage.

Mr Moorhouse asked: ’Would it be possible to review the previous government’s decision not to look at low-cost alternatives?

’In 2015, 60 UK radio stations benefited from Ofcom trials, where the costs of starting to broadcast digitally were only around £6,000. Shouldn’t local radio stations here have the same access?’

He suggested that the government could approach the BBC ’to see if it would be possible for local stations to broadcast through the local DAB transmitter at zero or low cost’.

Mr Quayle said it was a ’commercial decision’ for the island radio stations as to whether they wanted to go on the digital network, but he would be happy to discuss it with them.

With regard to the BBC, he said he could raise the issue of allowing other stations to use the DAB transmitter as part of wider negotiations over the TV licence fee and the corporation’s Isle of Man coverage.

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