Monday 16 December 2013

British Government: No Date for FM Switch-Off

Digital radio switch-over: Minister reveals measures to aid broadcasters
The radio industry will have to wait for digital switch-over after communications minister Ed Vaizey said today that much had to be done before broadcasters could contemplate following television into an all-digital future.

As expected, Vaizey did not announce a switch-over date, with digital take-up slower than expected, accounting for just over a third of all radio listening. 

Vaizey used a speech at the BBC's Broadcasting House in London to announce a range of new measures to boost the fortunes of digital radio, including a new national multiplex  and improved DAB coverage.

The commercial radio trade body, the Radio Centre, had been pushing for a 2018 switch-over date – when all national and most of the larger stations become digital only – but it remains to be seen if that will be achievable. Commercial radio companies are split between the (mostly) bigger groups keen to commit to switching, and many smaller stations who fear the move will imperil their future if they are left behind on FM, or struggle to adapt to the demands of DAB. (The Guardian)

The Government has said there will be no switch-over until digital accounts for at least 50 per cent of all listening, DAB coverage reaches FM levels, and there is “significant progress” on conversion of cars to digital radio. Digital listening currently accounts for 35.6 per cent of the total. (This includes Internet and other platforms)

It is estimated that 24 million adults have access to a DAB radio, but there are still an estimated 100 million analogue sets in use in Britain. The vast majority of vehicles on the road are still equipped with analogue radios, although more than 40 per cent of new cars now have digital radio as standard.

The last Labour government set 2015 as the date for the FM switch-off, but there has been a backlash, as a consortium of 100 stations with six million listeners has been set up to oppose a switchover. (Evening Standard)