Loss of digital radio signal frustrates local listeners

Nick Weddup, whose favorite local radio stations in Sudbury have disappeared after a retune. Picture Mark Westley ANL-161005-170756009
Nick Weddup, whose favorite local radio stations in Sudbury have disappeared after a retune. Picture Mark Westley ANL-161005-170756009
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A builder has had his usual work pattern rudely interrupted, by the loss of his favourite digital radio channels.

Like many people, Nick Weddup, who works as a general builder throughout the district, was recently advised to retune his radio.

Thinking nothing of this, he duly obliged.

However, he was angered to find all of his favourite channels had suddenly disappeared.

Not a fan of the mainstream BBC channels, Mr Weddup, from Church Street in Belchamp St Paul, said: “I love my radio. We heard the retune was coming. As far as we were aware it was going to be the same.”

He said the blackout for channels including Planet Rock, Classic FM, talkSPORT and Absolute Radio, seemed to stretch from Haverhill and down to Colchester, but said Sudbury and the surrounding area seemed to have been worst affected.

“To many people radio is more important than you’d think,” said the 29-year-old

“I work all around Sudbury and I like to be outside listening to my radio. I need to have something in the background.

“The worst thing is these channels are still listed on the system.”

He said the only way round for some listeners was to put up a large mast, something not possible in his line of work.

Originally Mr Weddup believed it must have been a simple mistake, but a spokesman for communications regulator Ofcom explained the changes had been part of a commercial decision taken by the radio channels themselves.

A spokesman for Ofcom said the missing channels were now broadcast by a new commercial multiplex called Sound Digital.

However, this multiplex only covers about 75 per cent of the UK population.

The other national commercial multiplex, Digital One, covers about 90 per cent of the country.

Unfortunately for Mr Weddup and other listeners, the missing channels in question have moved from Digital One to Sound Digital and this area appears to form part of the 30 per cent of the country not covered.

The spokesman said: “Some radio stations have recently made a commercial decision to move from one ‘multiplex’ – a bundle of digital channels broadcast as one channel – to another.

“Because coverage patterns vary, this means some listeners will no longer be able to receive those channels.”

He added that broadcasters were free to do this in the knowledge they would lose some customers.

Forced to either start listening to those channels that remain, or work in silence, Mr Weddup said: “It’s shocking really. It’s all about money. It seems bizarre the BBC can afford it but the others can’t.”