A RAFT of new digital radio stations are to launch across Cumbria, under plans unveiled by Ofcom.

The broadcast regulator has revealed that hundreds of new stations will be rolled out across the country from next year.

The announcement comes as the telecommunications company said that more than 40 per cent of the UK's radio listening takes place on the Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) platform.

Currently, in Cumbria there is only one DAB multiplex, Digital One (D1), which only broadcasts a number of national commercial radio stations across the county.

The latest proposals aim to expand local DAB coverage, and give Cumbrian listeners an even wider choice of stations.

Small-scale DAB is a technology pioneered in the UK by Ofcom.

It provides local commercial, community and specialist music stations with a low-cost route to hitting the digital airwaves.

By using freely available software and computer technology to transmit digital radio services, small-scale DAB enables stations to broadcast to a relatively small geographic area.

Graham Plumb, Ofcom’s director of spectrum broadcasting said: “People increasingly prefer digital radio, and by enabling smaller stations to join this digital revolution, we can broaden the choice for local listeners up and down the country.”

Following successful trials, Ofcom are now consulting on how they would implement Government legislation to create a framework for the licensing of small-scale DAB radio on a permanent basis, before launching small-scale DAB in 2020.

The plans come after Ofcom revealed in May that three new local DAB multiplexes across Cumbria would launch within the next year.

One will cover north and west Cumbria, another will transmit across Morecambe Bay and south Cumbria, and another would broadcast across south west Scotland.

Unlike small-scale DAB, the local multiplexes would be used to broadcast stations such as BBC Radio Cumbria and Carlisle-based commercial station CFM to be available on DAB for the very-first time, and provide space for other commercial radio brands to broadcast.