A digital radio future is one step closer today as Communications Minister Ed Vaizey confirmed the completion of the Digital Radio Action Plan.
The Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries met with radio broadcasters at a “Go Digital” reception in the House of Commons and confirmed that significant progress had been made in the transition to digital radio in the UK.
Vaizey confirmed that the Government will announce their decision on a future radio switchover at the end of the year and hailed the positive progress in terms of consumers, cars and coverage.
It was three years ago when Vaizey first announced the Digital Radio Action Plan, which includes agreeing a coverage plan for building DAB coverage to match FM, a strategic marketing and communications plan and the development of a digital radio “kite mark scheme”.
The reception was hosted by Lauren Laverne and brought together many radio presenters including Neil Fox, Denise Van Outen, Elaine Paige, Paul Gambaccini, Ricky, Melvin and Charlie, Al Murray, Pete Waterman and David ‘Kid’ Jensen, with over 70 MPs.
Helen Boaden, Director of BBC Radio, said that the BBC digital radio stations were well loved by listeners and that the BBC was continuing to invest in digital content and the expansion of DAB digital radio coverage. She welcomed the Government commitment to a decision on radio switchover this year and said that this would provide welcome certainty for the industry.
Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, highlighted the importance of radio listening in cars and announced that nearly 40% of new cars in the UK now come with digital radio as standard, which compares with 25.1% in June 2012, and just 12.1% in June 2011.
He said that major car brands BMW, Mini, Land Rover and Jaguar already have 100% of new cars with digital radio as standard and that Ford, Audi, Volvo and Toyota have the majority of their cars with digital radio. Mr Ennals also confirmed the Toyota announcement that its leading Lexus brand will have digital radio as standard in all new cars from September.
Parliamentarians also heard from John Cresswell, CEO of broadcasting and communications infrastructure company Arqiva, who confirmed that DAB digital radio coverage of both national and local stations continues to expand and that Ofcom has completed the plan for building out DAB coverage to FM equivalence.
Helen Boaden, Director of BBC Radio, says: “The BBC is committed to a digital future for radio and is investing in expanding the DAB coverage of our national stations and innovating online to provide a better service to listeners: feedback from our successful digital radio coverage of Glastonbury proves yet again how much our audiences love digital radio.”
John Cresswell, CEO of Arqiva, says: “Arqiva is fully committed to investing in Radio’s digital future and is continually improving national and local DAB coverage so that more listeners can come to love digital radio.”