Insights Government renews commercial digital radio multiplex licences until 2035


Following a public consultation during the summer of 2021, the Government has announced that it is giving Ofcom the power to renew two national commercial radio multiplex licences, Digital One Ltd Multiplex and Sound Digital Ltd Multiplex, due to expire in 2023 and 2028 respectively, until December 2035.

Digital One Ltd Multiplex stations include Absolute Radio, Capital and Smooth. Sound Digital Ltd Multiplex stations include Jazz FM and Talk Radio.

The Government says that radio is extremely popular in the UK. Almost nine in ten adults listen to their favourite stations every week. However, today more people choose to listen to their favourite stations on digital devices, with terrestrial broadcast digital (DAB) radio now the most popular way people listen to radio programmes in the UK.

The Government explains that a digital radio multiplex is a service which groups several different radio stations onto one frequency. It differs from analogue (FM/AM) broadcasting where a single signal is broadcast. Multiplexes allow radio broadcasters to use the spectrum to be allocated more efficiently and give listeners more choice on digital radio.

Renewing the two multiplex licences via a Legislative Reform Order will also provide long-term continuity for various national commercial stations to broadcast digitally. To read the Government’s press release in full, click here.