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Digital radio switch – only when consumers are ready, says Which?

2015 radio switchover date is an industry target
Digital radio screen

A digital radio switchover will mean national radio stations will no longer be broadcast on FM.

Industry is working towards a switchover from analogue to digital radio, with 2015 as the target date; but reports in the media today suggest that may need to be postponed.

Some reports incorrectly claim Which? wants the switch postponed by at least five years. In fact, our view is that digital radio switchover should only take place if and when consumers are ready, whether that’s in two years or twenty years.

Visit the Which? Conversation and tell us what you think about digital radio switchover.

What is radio switchover?

Digital radio switchover is the planned switch of all national radio stations from analogue to digital radio platforms. It would mean that national stations would no longer be available on FM.

However, if you haven’t bought your digital radio yet, there’s no need to be alarmed – the switchover will only take place when certain criteria have been met.

Digital Radio Action Plan

The government has prepared a Digital Radio Action Plan which includes certain criteria which must be met before a switchover takes place. Crucially, Communications Minister Ed Vaizey states within the plan that: ‘Any transition from analogue to digital radio must be consumer led’. Which? agrees.

The criteria put forward in the plan include national DAB coverage being comparable with FM coverage; and a target of 50 per cent of all radio listening being on digital platforms.

Until those criteria are met, no switchover will take place. Which? would like to see the target increased to 70 per cent to ensure people aren’t left without access to national radio.

Consumers mustn’t be left without radio

Matt Bath, Which? technology editor, said: ‘We think that the government should wait until more radio is consumed on digital platforms – 70% of listening rather than the current Digital Radio Action Plan target of 50% – before announcing a switchover, a view backed by the Consumer Expert Group. Whatever decision is made, the key thing is that people aren’t left without access to national radio’.

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