Minister Ed Vaizey has supported the progress on digital radio at the Intellect Consumer Electronics Conference 2011.
He said the platform has great new content including Jazz FM, Radio 4 Extra and 6 Music, and that a recent Ofcom consultation showed that achieving FM equivalence coverage was realistic and achievable.
The Minister recognised the progress made on cars with 14% of all new cars now being fitted with digital radios as standard, and looked forward to the Government taking a positive decision on digital radio switchover in 2013.
GFK reported a large uplift in digital radio sales compared to last year, coinciding with the launch of Radio 4 Extra, and that cumulative digital radio sales hit 13 million at the end of June. They have also confirmed that digital radio sales for April and May were up compared to last year, despite a background of a difficult market for Consumer Electronics overall.
Broadcasters and manufacturers have reported a positive consumer response to the five new national digital stations launched in the last year and the BBC rebrand of Radio 4 Extra. During April and May when Radio 4 Extra and Jazz FM were launched, listeners contacted broadcasters and manufacturers asking how to access the new services.
Digital Radio UK reinforced this in June with an on-air digital radio content advertising campaign and through mailings sent by retailers to their customers.
In the panel session on digital radio, Ford Ennals said: “The growth of digital radio is irresistible and will create long-lasting benefits for both consumers and the radio industry. People are becoming aware of these great new digital radio stations and finding new favourites.”
Leslie Burrage, CEO of Roberts Radio, said: “Roberts Radio has always maintained that original ‘content, content, content’ would drive consumer off-take of DAB radios. What better proof than the recent BBC’s extensive on-air launch of Radio 4 Extra – our Customer Helpline was inundated with ‘how can I receive this new Radio 4 Extra station, it sounds just what I want?’ Our consumer DAB off-take rose by over 20% during the period of the BBC campaign – and has continued to activate additional sales for ROBERTS Independent Dealers ever since.”
Colin Crawford, PURE’s Director of Marketing, said: “As the pioneer of digital radio in the UK and beyond, we are proud to have designed and manufactured over a quarter of the 13 million digital radios sold to date in the UK. We welcome the recent introduction of new digital stations like Jazz FM and Radio 4 Extra, as additional choice is one of the major consumer benefits of digital radio, along with improved sound quality, additional features and ease of use.”
Richard Wheatly, CEO of Jazz FM, said: “The audience response to the return of Jazz FM to the airwaves has been fantastic. Digital radio was the main platform for our return in the UK and in March we took the decision to extend our coverage nationally.”
Tim Davie, Director of BBC Audio & Music, commented: “Our digital-only stations offer exclusive content and give listeners more choice. We hope that the re-branding of Radio 7 as Radio 4 Extra will lead to a greater awareness – and appreciation – of the range of high quality programmes available via digital radio.”
Michael Hill, Managing Director of Radioplayer, said: “Early indications are that nearly 6 million people are using Radioplayer every month, and the consistent interface is encouraging them to stay with radio for longer.”