Digital radio industry says it's still on track for switchover

LONDON - The Digital Radio Working Group (DRWG) insists that Britain could be ready to migrate from analogue to digital radio by 2017, despite Channel 4's recent exit from digital radio casting doubts over the second DAB multiplex.

The working group said it had renewed its commitment to Digital Audio Broadcasting and said that at least 50% of total radio listening must occur on digital platforms; the national multiplex coverage must be comparable to current FM coverage; and local multiplexes should reach at least 90% of the population, including all major roads.

It urged Ofcom to monitor progress against the criteria on an ongoing basis and that a date for migration should be announced by Government, around 2017.

It warned that the Government needs to relax some of the existing legislative and regulatory burdens placed on the industry, and call for more focus on encouraging motorists to adopt DAB in their cars.

The DRWG said nearly a million DAB sets are expected to be sold this Christmas period.

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said the recommendations made by the group would be considered ‘as part of the wider work being undertaken for the ‘Digital Britain' report'.

The move to digital radio has been hit by significant challenges. 4 Digital had been due to launch 10 new national stations on DAB radio.

However, the inability of to make the new platform pay means none of the new stations will launch in the foreseeable future. Reports suggest it likely that the licence for the second national commercial DAB multiplex, which was awarded by Ofcom to 4 Digital last year, will be returned to Ofcom.

 

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