The future of radio in the UK is again under discussion. As you’re probably aware, with the Digital TV switchover largely complete, the Government is turning its attention to a Digital Radio Switchover.
The plans are to move regional, national and some local stations from FM and AM over to digital platforms including DAB, Internet and digital TV.
One of the big stumbling blocks to a move to DAB Digital Radio is the coverage, which is not great in some parts of the UK – only 66% of households can get local DAB radio stations. The semi-good news here is that up to £21 million is about to be made available to extend local service to 1,250,000 listeners (£14 per person?). New local DAB multiplex will be added to support listeners in the Gloucestershire, Hereford/Worcester, Northamptonshire, North-east Wales, Oxfordshire and West Cheshire areas.
Ed Vaizey, the UK’s Communications Minister’s publicity people had the following words of wisdom to say: “This is a positive and significant step forward for the future of digital radio in the UK. As more and more listeners make the switch to digital, it’s vital that we keep on increasing the areas able to receive a digital signal.”
The FM Switch-off
It’s been made clear that the switchover to digital can’t happen until certain conditions have been met – one of those conditions being that coverage of DAB is equal to that of FM. At the earliest, this isn’t likely until 2015.
Back in 2009, the Digital Britain Report proposed a date of 2015 for the FM and AM radio switchover, but in the announcement made by the Department of Media, Culture and Sport in July 2012 now makes it clear that the Government will be making a decision on the future of AM and FM by the end of 2013.
So, we’ll have to wait and see…