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Torbay & Teignbridge digital radio network launches

Monday, 27 November 2023 07:29

By Bradley Gerrard, local democracy reporter

TorDab broadcasts across Torbay and much of Teignbridge (image courtesy: Richard Harding)

Includes Radio Exe, ExeMas and South Devon Radio

A new digital radio network made possible by legislation sponsored by a Devon MP has launched across Torbay and Teignbridge.

TorDab, which is operated by people associated with Devon’s Radio Exe and South Devon Radio – a new station in Torbay – became operational on Friday.

Local digital, or DAB, radio networks were made possible by the Broadcasting (Radio Multiplex Services) Act 2017, legislation that emerged from a private members’ bill by Torbay MP Kevin Foster (Cons).

The networks, which only began broadcasting across selected parts of the UK last year, uses new technology  allow radio stations to broadcast to more specific geographic areas than previously possible, and this helps reduce costs, which in turn makes smaller radio stations more viable.

Mr Foster, who attended the official launch event of TorDab, hosted at the marina by Torquay Watersports, said the local DAB networks made sense on a number of levels.

“Prior to their creation, there were effectively two options,” he said.

“You either ran a small operation from your bedroom via a laptop, or you had to broadcast to the entire county, which was extremely expensive for community stations.”

He added that when the idea for his private members’ bill first arose, he felt the media landscape was changing, and that there was a risk local radio coverage could suffer if changes to legislation weren’t made.

“We need to keep local radio local, as there is demand for it, and it has a civic and commercial function,” he said.

“I didn’t want to see a situation where local news was actually done on a regional basis with only one genuinely local story a day.”

TorDab, which has three transmitters across the Torbay and Teignbridge area, means that radio stations linked to the network reach around 210,000 adults.

As well as Radio Exe and South Devon Radio, Phonic, and Ocean Youth Radio, which provides opportunities for young people to train in broadcasting, are part of the network, as well as Radio Exe’s non-stop Christmas station Radio ExeMas.

All of the stations, except for Ocean Youth Radio, are also available on the Exeter DAB network, while Radio Exe, Radio ExeMas and Phonic are also on the new Plymouth DAB network, expanding their reach to roughly 700,000 adults in Devon.

Jim Parker, chair of TorDab, said two new stations, including a speech service, are expected to come on air in the new year.

Other stations can join the network subject to them obtaining the relevant licences from the broadcasting regulator Ofcom.

“It’s been a lengthy process from applying to run the service through to launching the network, but finally we’re on air,” Mr Parker said.

“We hope listeners will enjoy the five stations that are now available, and that more organisations will be encouraged to start their own radio service, or get in touch with us so we can help them provide programming to reach new audiences.”

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