Friday 11 Jul 2014
Motorists driving between Inverness and Perth on the A9 will soon be able to take BBC Radio Scotland with them every mile of the journey.
The BBC is adding three new FM transmitters between Pitlochry and Kingussie in the next few months to ensure motorists will soon be able to tune into Radio Scotland. The new transmitters will be located at existing communication masts at Crubenmore, Dalnacardoch Wood and Blair Atholl.
Until now, motorists faced up to 60 miles of radio silence or very poor reception in parts of one of Scotland's major roads.
The radio blackspot had been raised with the BBC by the Audience Council for Scotland, whose members were contacted by licence fee payers concerned about failure to get up-to-the-minute travel and weather bulletins, in particular, on a road regularly hit by snow and ice.
Over the years, several solutions have been explored but the topography and isolated nature of the area has made it difficult to find any plans which were viable.
Now the BBC's transmission provider will carry out work at three towers over the next few months to bring the transmitters on-air. That should ensure that BBC Radio Scotland will be available by the end of the summer via a combination of MW and FM between Perth and Inverness.
Jeff Zycinski, Head of Radio, BBC Scotland, welcomed the development: "These transmission blackspots have been of great concern to our listeners for many years and I know they will welcome this solution.
"The route through Highland Perthshire and into Inverness is one of the busiest in Scotland and the severe conditions this past winter remind us how important is that travellers have access to the latest news and information from BBC Radio Scotland.
"As someone who now lives and work in Inverness, I know how frustrating it can be to encounter those patches of radio silence or poor reception and I'm so pleased that my colleagues have come up with a way to sort that – despite some of the technical problems presented by the geography and the terrain."
The BBC Audience Council for Scotland has welcomed the initiative. The chair of the council, and National Trustee for Scotland, Jeremy Peat, said: "Radio reception on the A9 has been a prominent issue at Audience Council engagement events in the north of Scotland.
"The council has pursued the issue with BBC Scotland management on behalf of licence payers, and welcomes this initiative which it believes will ensure greatly improved availability of key travel information for road users on the main trunk route between Inverness and Perth."