BBC Trashing 13 UK Medium Wave Transmitters

So the BBC has decided to turn off 13 of its Medium Wave radio transmitters.

The BBC is meant to be a public service, so in principle, saving money is good, but not if listeners are deprived from services. However, as MW use in Britain is probably pretty low now, the BBC will likely get away with it this time.

But some of the BBC local stations do occasionally split services to cover things like local sports events on MW only, leaving regular programs on FM. BBC Gloucestershire does this now and then, but I see they are not on the current list to lose MW yet.

I’m not sure how the BBC would get on removing national MW services, e.g. Virgin Radio possibly still has some audience on MW.

The Beeb’s decision is, of course, all to do with cutting transmitter running costs and the smaller but important costs of line-links and transmitter and mast maintenance.

Of course, the longer term issue is what is going to happen to the MW band? The obvious answer I wish for is to see the reworking of these frequencies using digital DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale), which would give all sorts of possibilities … e.g. multiplexing of channels, an emergency alert system for the whole country and some small video content alongside radio.

But, so far, I don’t see any appetite for doing this. The BBC would probably say they could not accept the necessary capital costs and it would need the usual long-term blessing from OFCOM – and we know only too well that they are driven by political people at Westminster, who either don’t really know about the situation, or are driven by thoughts of avoiding expense … especially now when the Government faces huge capital spends reworking hundreds of high rise buildings, etc..

Is there an appetite from entrepreneurs to apply for use of some MW frequencies and start DRM? Somehow I don’t think so. Its not the same situation as in the 1960’s when there was a wide-open opportunity with a huge number of listeners equipped and ready-to-go with conventional MW sets.

It’s unlike India where the government has made the political decision and converted All India Radio to DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) without a huge number of receivers out in the population. They clearly live in hopes of building new receiver business in the country.

UK Radio Fun & Anomalies Before 14th August 1967 …

Did you know that the Marine Broadcasting (Offences) Act which came into effect in Britain on 14th August 1967 did NOT in fact outlaw the offshore radio stations themselves?
The legal status of stations like Radio Caroline, Radio London, 390, 270, Scotland, and others did not change on that date.

Instead the new law criminalised UK citizens and companies, forbidding them to supply, advertise or work for these radio stations.

Incredible but true, in the 1960s and earlier, according to the UK’s 1949 Wireless Telegraphy Act, it was illegal for anybody in Britain to listen to Radio Caroline or any of the other unlicensed offshore “pirate” stations!

The absurdity of prosecuting millions of UK radio listeners for listening to music was not lost on the stations themselves and many will remember promotions they broadcast, such as this one in which a magistrate is sentencing a listener to have to listen to the BBC Light Programme for the rest of their life!