UK radio to go completely digital by 2020

UK radio services should be migrated on to digital audio broadcasting (DAB) by 2020, according to the Digital Radio Working Group’s interim report. It proposes to move stations gradually over the next 12 years rather than setting a cut-off date.

The report, published today, says the national, regional and large local radio stations should be migrated on to digital audio broadcasting (DAB) over the medium term with all radio services moving on to the platform in the long term,

The DRWG calls for the Government to set out conditions that need to be met to allow switchover to start, including monitoring listenership and coverage, instead of setting a date for switchover. It believes this could be completed by 2020.

Barry Cox, DRWG chairman, says: “We believe radio must have a digital future and that this will benefit both listening and industry. Audiences will be able to enjoy increased functionality and more choice of channels, while the industry will no longer have to sustain the increased transmission costs of broadcasting on multiple platform.”

He adds that action must be taken to address the challenges facing DAB and industry concerns if progress is to be made and if listeners are to benefit from the platform.

RadioCentre, the industry body, welcomed the report for outlining a “clear route map and timing” for digital switchover. Andrew Harrison, RadioCentre chief executive, says: “I’m dleighted that we have an aligned plan along with other stakeholders including the BBC, Community Radio, the Consumer Expert Group and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders for the proposed future of digital radio.”

The DRWG was set up in November last year in look at the barriers to growth in digital radio and the conditions necessary to migrate radio services on to DAB.

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