Winchester and Basingstoke small-scale DAB off air as rescue mission launched

Two small-scale DAB multiplexes are off-air after their parent company entered voluntary liquidation – but plans are in place to bring them back.

Ofcom has agreed to transfer the licences for Winchester and Basingstoke to two new groups, Winchester DAB and Basingstoke DAB, from UK DAB Networks.

Both companies have been created under the leadership of Osman Sen-Chadun from Outreach Radio, who is working to get the multiplexes back on-air.

Engineering work is currently taking place by the new owners, which is made up of local stations Basingstoke Community Radio, Hospital Radio Basingstoke, Outreach Radio, Voice FM, Winchester Radio and Winchester Today.

Mr Sen-Chadun said: “We’re very relieved and extremely fortunate to have been able to take on these DAB licences. It’s a lifeline that will enable us to ensure future continuity of service to all radio stations affected by the unfortunate demise of UK DAB Networks.

“Now begins some major re-engineering works, that will allow us to operate these services in a financially sustainable manner, which in turn will offer a greater level of protection to our valuable local radio services, many of which are charities, social enterprises and not-for-profit organisations.

“The engineering work has to begin immediately as we’ve now taken on these licences, but it’s our firm intention to restore the radio services back to air as soon as possible.

“This is an unprecedented situation, which requires administrative, legislative and engineering support from the broadcast regulatory body OfCom, who have been
incredibly supportive in advising our consortia during this process.

“We have shared our learnings with OfCom so that they too may gain a clearer understanding of the issues and challenges we have faced, and in turn, may be able to advise and protect other licencees in the future.

“With OfCom’s continued guidance and support, and in the hope that our new technical plans are accepted and signed off as soon as possible, we are certain that we can keep downtime to a minimum.

“Christmas advertising revenues are at risk for all radio stations impacted by these changes, and winter is never the ideal season to undertake this type of engineering work.

“Although we would have preferred to carry out this work in the New Year, the timing was out of our control and we were forced by legal hurdles, but we have our lifeline, and will do our best whatever the weather.”