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Ofcom awards digital radio licence to local partnership

Shefcast Digital will host around 25 DAB local radio channels reaching Sheffield and Rotherham, with services on air by October.

Sheffield Live studio with Sangita Basudev

Sheffield Live! Chief Executive Sangita Basudev in the studio.

Ofcom has awarded a small-scale digital audio broadcasting (DAB) licence to a consortium of community media organisations based in Sheffield and Rotherham.

The not-for-profit group includes Commedia Sheffield and Pakistan Muslim Centre, which operate Sheffield Live! and Link FM respectively, and Rotherham-based Redroad FM.

The project prospectus says the initiative was formed “to develop a new generation of digital community media.”

21 community channels out of a possible 25 have already been confirmed as using the new Shefcast Digital multiplex, which will operate on a single frequency, including Sheffield Live!, Link FM, Redroad FM, Gumbo FM, UK Mondo, Rother Radio and Forge FM.

An open call for more channel providers will be launched this year, with “social value” forming a core part of the selection process.

Shefcast Digital coverage plan for Sheffield and Rotherham

Shefcast Digital radio coverage plan for Sheffield and Rotherham.

“Shefcast Digital will seek to nurture and support a range of high-quality digital radio services in Sheffield and Rotherham, which respond to the diversity of interests, cultures and concerns of our communities,” the prospectus states.

Sangita Basudev, Chief Executive of Sheffield Live!, said DAB was the station’s “next big adventure” and that the collaboration would “develop a new tier of local and community radio services that cater for underserved audiences and communities."

Bill Best, Operations Manager at the national Community Media Association, added: "The CMA welcomes the award of the Sheffield and Rotherham DAB licence to Shefcast Digital. Local and community ownership of this new tier of DAB services is the best guarantee for local content and social value."

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