Government backs digital radio switchover

The Government has confirmed its commitment to a digital radio switchover but will not set a date for an analogue switch off.

Ed Vaizey
Ed Vaizey

Ed Vaizey, minister for culture, communications and creative Industries will unveil details of the government’s “digital radio action plan”, said to include a coverage plan for building DAB coverage to match FM, but will stop short of setting a cut-off date.

The previous Government set a date of 2015 for the switchover from analogue to digital. However, many observers have predicted that the radio industry will struggle to meet that deadline.

Digital’s share of radio listening is above 20% but in order to meet the switchover date, about 50% of all radio listening must be via digital platforms by 2013.

Sales of DAB sets are on the rise but some have argued that a stronger case for the benefits of digital radio has to be made to consumers.

To this end, Digital Radio UK, the company charged with overseeing the digital radio switchover, launched a summer campaign to drive digital radio sales, while the radio industry has launched several other initial initiatives, including an analogue scrappage scheme, aimed at driving take-up.

Vaizey will also reveal plans to develop a new marketing and communications plan to push the benefits of digital radio and a program to encourage car manufacturers to include DAB radios in new vehicles, to know a major barrier to increased take-up.

The radio industry welcomed the government’s commitment to a switchover. Andrew Harrison, chief executive of commercial radio body RadioCentre, says the “certainty” will help “all stations within the commercial sector to invest in the future”, while Tim Davie, director of audio and music at the BBC, committed to working with the government and the rest of the radio sector to deliver the action plan.

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