Millions of UK DAB radio listeners to be locked out
DAB radio listeners are facing the possibility of being locked out of popular stations, including Classic FM, as major channels are abandoning older DAB radio system in favor of the new DAB+ technology. This move is forcing listeners to purchase more modern radios in order to continue accessing their favorite stations.
The shift to digital radio was initially prompted by the government’s plan to turn off the FM signal, but with this delay until at least 2030, many DAB radios are becoming obsolete as they can only pick up the DAB signal and not the modern DAB+. Classic FM, which boasts around 4.5 million listeners, is among the popular stations that have announced their switch to DAB+. However, this change will leave behind around one-third of DAB radio owners who do not have DAB+ capacity.
This means that around 10.1 million UK households need to purchase new DAB+ radios in order to continue enjoying their favorite stations. Complaints from listeners about not being able to access their favorite channels have also been on the rise.
Listeners often call into stations to complain that they are unable to get their radio to play the right channel. This is particularly common among older people who are trying to be thrifty by purchasing secondhand radios. The switch to DAB+ technology has created frustration for these listeners, as they now need to invest in new radios or risk being locked out of their favorite stations.
UK is the last country to make a transition from DAB to DAB+ (Also Norway and Denmark made this transition during the last decade). DAB was introduced in the UK 1995.
Despite the switch to DAB+, the BBC has expressed its commitment to continue serving those with DAB radios. BBC has no plans for a FM switch-off. While Classic FM will turn off its DAB signal when it switches to the new DAB+, it will still be available on FM radio.
According to Rajar 70% of weekly listening hours are consumed digitally. Listening via DAB has 12% share of listening and DAB+ 28%. Online has a 24% (website/apps 10%, Smart Speakers 14%) share and DTT (terrestrial television network) is 4%. AM/FM listening hours are 30%.