Affordable Small Scale DAB For Stoke And Newcastle

Contact Us Now



As you may have heard, Ofcom have announced their decision to award us the Small Scale DAB licence for Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme! (Click here to see more details of Ofcom’s award.)

We’re delighted with the news and want to thank everyone who has supported us on the way. This really has been a joint effort from a number of community radio groups in North Staffordshire who wanted to work together to make Stoke and Newcastle a better place through non-profit media. So thanks to all those who contributed.

We also want to give credit to our competitors in this race, Stoke and Newcastle DAB. Despite the rivalry between the bids, interactions between the teams were always professional and courteous and certainly never negative. At ABC we are, at best, quite agnostic about the value of ‘competition’. Usually, we’d prefer to be working with people than running against them. However, if we are honest, the presence of such a competitive, quality bid running against us certainly did help us to refine our offer and make it a better application. So, it’s important to acknowledge the hard work that obviously went in.

It’s never an easy experience when you are on the wrong side of a decision like this. (We’ve been there on a number of occasions, as individuals and as a team, and so we know how it difficult it can be.) Furthermore, the loss of John Evington, both as one of their team members and also as an iconic figure in local media, is still prominent in our minds. We hope we can establish something through this project that is in keeping with his memory. In light of that, and given the positive spirit in which this ‘competition’ was conducted, we do hope we can work with their various team members as our plans progress.

There’s a long but exciting road ahead and it will take a number of months before we can launch, but watch this space for more developments! If you are interested in getting your station on our transmitter, there’s more information on this page and you can contact us using the details below.

Here’s to the future of digital broadcasting in Stoke and Newcastle!

Get In Touch

What is SSDAB? 


For some time, UK media regulator Ofcom has been encouraging radio stations to use DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasts). DAB allows increased capacity (i.e. a wider choice of stations), better quality audio and enhanced info in the form of enhanced text, logos or even slideshows. 

Whilst great for large commercial channels, DAB has proved to be prohibitively expensive for smaller broadcasters, like community stations. Consequently, Ofcom introduced a new system for these groups called Small Scale DAB (SSDAB).

Small Scale DAB is a great opportunity. Not only for community broadcasters but also other non-profit broadcasters and small commercial stations. By making use of innovative techniques and new technology, SSDAB is much less expensive that the traditional DAB providers. Additionally, as a non-profit organisation, we’re committed to keeping our prices low 

Get In Touch

Who We Are


Unlike traditional ‘analogue’ radio, each DAB transmitter can broadcast numerous channels. For this reason, groups of smaller stations are being encouraged to set up their own SSDAB transmitters. They can then tailor services to their needs.

The Alternative Broadcast Company (ABC) was set up in 2016 specifically for this purpose. Since then, we’ve been working with the various local stations in Stoke and Newcastle to prepare for a licence application. Following successful pilot schemes around the UK, Ofcom is now starting permanent projects and awarded the licence for North Staffordshire to us on the 12th May 2022. We hope to start broadcasts before Easter 2023. 

Get In Touch

Ethos and values


Whilst many SSDAB projects have been set up as commercial ventures, ABC has been set up as a Non-Profit company. SSDAB was originally set up to serve and facilitate the non-profit community media sector and so we want to do things differently to reflect this. In practice this means three things:-

  1. Focus: ABC  will be focussed, primarily on meeting the need of local community broadcasters.
  2. Affordability: Fees charged to broadcasters will be kept as low as possible, particularly for the community sector.
  3. Fairness: Any profits made will be invested back into local community media, supporting the important work this sector does in our local neighbourhoods.

So, whether your station is community, non-profit or commercial you can rest assured that we will be keeping prices as low as possible and that, by taking part, you are helping the amazing work carried out by community stations. This includes providing training, community development, increasing the aspirations of local people and highlighting important social issue that matter to each neighbourhood. For example, Community radio has played a huge part in tackling issues cause by the global Corona Virus pandemic, connecting groups that had become isolated and being a source of trusted information.

Get In Touch



Whilst the licence has just been awarded, we started the project in 2016 and much of the time since then was spent carrying out extensive research of transmission sites, investigating over 20 different locations around the area. We settled on a central location as we’ve found that this provides the best overall coverage of Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme. 

To maximise their audience, we will be encouraging stations to use a DAB+ signal (most new DAB radio sets can pick up DAB+ broadcasts) which is a more robust than the traditional DAB broadcast. 

The green areas of the map represent good indoor reception. In the yellow areas, reception is still good for mobile use. (e.g. in cars, outside or on foot.) 

The predicted total potential population that our signal will be reach is just over 310,000 people.


Get In Touch

what else do i need to know?


How much will you charge?

With the current rises in prices, we won’t be able to make our fees available, publicly, until we have firmed up the timing of our launch date. However, we’re happy to chat to people individually about what we are proposing to charge and give an estimate. (Just get in touch using the contact details below.) What we can tell you here is how the pricing system will work, in general terms:-

Pricing Structure

As a non-profit, we want to keep costs as low as possible but give our biggest discounts to the local community stations making a difference in our area. Consequently, we’re proposing a 2 tier pricing structure with stations falling in to one of two categories:-. 

C-DSP Licencees* (Local Non-Profits): These will be the community and charitable organisations, based in Stoke and Newcastle that hold C-DSP licences. (Community – Digital Sound Programme.) These organisations will receive preferential access to the transmitter.

DSP Licencees* (All other stations): Other channels will hold a DSP Licence (Digital Sound Programme). These might include stations run by Charities, CIC’s and other not-for-profits based outside the area. They also include commercial stations aimed at the local area or channels with a national or regional focus that want to extend their reach using SSDAB. (Some stations will already have a DSP licence to broadcast elsewhere which could be used to broadcast on our transmitter.) Whilst not benefitting from the same preferential access as C-DSP stations, our non-profit ethos will ensure that we keep prices as low as possible.

*C-DSP and DSP licences are administered directly by Ofcom through a relatively straight-forward application process. The links below provide more details of this procedure and also guidance about which licence is the most appropriate for your station. Whilst we won’t be able to launch for some time, there is quite a long lead time (several months) for Ofcom to process these applications, particularly for C-DSP licences. This needs to be born in mind to ensure that licences are in place before any launch date. 

Licence Application Information (From the Ofcom Website):-      C-DSP Licences         DSP Licences

Is There a Minimum Contract Length?

In short, no. To encourage take-up, we’re proposing an ‘Easy in – Easy Out’ approach i.e. there will be no minimum contract length. A one off set-up fee for each new station will apply to cover the costs of additional equipment and configuration. However, we will wave this set-up fee for stations committing to a minimum term of three months and paying in advance.

When will you start broadcasting?

We are aiming to launch by Easter 2023. Whilst this seems a long way away, demand for space on the transmitter has already been high. However, we would still welcome enquiries from new stations as we will be operating on a first come, first served basis. So the sooner you express an interest, the better. Just use the contact details below. 

Do I Need Any Specialist Equipment or Special Internet Connection? 

Most radio stations are already broadcasting on the internet and it’s a relatively simple process to adapt this to send a signal to our transmitter. Most internet connections will easily have enough capacity to carry your signal. Providing that your studio isn’t in the middle of nowhere, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Will VAT be added on top of the fees?

Fees will not be subject to VAT. As a non-profit dedicated to keeping costs low we will stay under the VAT threshold.

Start Date: As mentioned above, our target start date will be Easter 2023 and so no payments will be necessary until at least February 2023.

There’s a big broadcasting mast at the top of the page? Is that your transmitter? 

No. Just a nice picture of an iconic North Staffs broadcasting landmark, Fenton TV mast!


Get In Touch


get in touch

To find out more, get in touch using the contact details below:-

Copyright © 2022 The Alternative Broadcast Company A Not-for-Profit company No.10369182

Registered Office: 31 Chamberlain Ave, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 5EN