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Switch from FM to DAB radio uncertain

Ed Vaizey announces government action plan for DAB


Minister for Culture, Ed Vaizey, has announced the government’s action plan for DAB radio, but the date for a national switchover from FM to DAB remains undetermined.

Ed Vaizey spoke today on the government’s plans for the future of DAB radio, confirming it is ‘committed to digital radio’ and that although 2015 is a ‘target to aspire to’ for switching national radio broadcasts from FM to DAB, it remains merely a target.

FM to DAB switchover

On Radio 4’s Today show, the Minister remarked that ‘If it comes to the point – 2015 – where people are still listening, to particularly the BBC, on FM, then that will continue.’

Which? has reviewed more than 80 digital radios, the majority of which also include FM tuners. The ‘Compare features’ function in our review lets you search for the best FM/DAB radios Which? has tested.

Digital radio listening figures

As was to be the case with under the previous Government, a radio switchover date is to be determined by listener figures. National radio broadcasts will remain on FM until 50% of listeners have voluntarily switched to using digital platforms.

This comes just days after radio manufacturer Roberts announced the launch of two new analogue-only radios – highlighting that there still remains a consumer appeal for analogue radio rather than DAB.

Which? DAB radio expert Katie Waller said: ‘Although some consumers may currently be receiving and enjoying DAB, there are still many problems surrounding a national FM to DAB switchover that aren’t quick fixes – nationwide reception, in-car listening and the cost of replacing analogue sets, to mention but a few. 

‘Many people may be perfectly happy with the choice of stations they can listen to on analogue radio – consumers must not feel, or be, forced into a switch from FM to DAB.’

DAB action plan

The Government’s action plan for digital radio is likely to include discussions for increasing DAB popularity along with a full cost benefit analysis, considerations for universal technical standards for DAB radios, and a help scheme to assist vulnerable consumers in switching to DAB.

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