The latest annual report on digital radio from Ofcom shows people are still buying more FM radio sets than DAB, and 60% of new cars still don’t have DAB as standard.
Forty-six per cent of people claimed ownership of a DAB digital radio, but out of those who do not have access to a set at home, only 14% claim that they are ‘likely’/’very likely’/’certain’ to buy a set in the next 12 months.
The Government is expected to announce the future of platforms for radio in the UK before the end of the year.
In automobiles, 38.3% of new cars are currently fitted with DAB as standard, up just 12.4 percentage points more than were fitted with DAB as standard in Q2 2012.
The Digital Radio Action Plan emphasises that digital radio switchover should begin only when the market is ready and that it should be predominantly consumer-led. The Action Plan stated that a decision on setting a date for digital radio switchover will be made when the following criteria are met:
- when 50% of all radio listening is via digital platforms; and
- when national DAB coverage is comparable to FM, and local DAB reaches 90% of the population and all major roads.
Listening on a DAB digital radio set was the most widely-used method of listening to digital radio in the 12 months to the end of Q2 2013, accounting for 64.9% of all digital listening hours. The proportion of digital listening through the internet or apps grew by 1.6pp year on year to account for 14.9% of digital listening.
William Rogers, UKRD Chief says: “This report tells us what we already know to be true. There will be no switchover to DAB in 2015, the choice of DAB as the alternative platform to FM for local radio was an error, DAB has failed to become the choice of platform for those listening to local radio stations, more sets are sold today without a DAB enabled receiver than those that have one, the choices people are making in terms of listening to a digital platform are increasingly those that are not DAB related and the coverage for local radio on DAB remains totally inadequate. This is an inferior and more costly platform.
“Ofcom has clearly set out the facts and the facts, when they are not spun as they inevitably will be by Government, Radio Centre and DRUK, show conclusively that DAB remains the wrong choice and that switchover in 2015 or anywhere near it, is not going to happen.
“Digital is unquestionably the future but the public is saying loud and clear that DAB specifically should be an incremental platform, as it always should have been, and not a replacement.”
A spokesperson for DigitalRadioUK told us: “We welcome the Ofcom report and it shows the positive progress made across a number of fronts: it highlights the progress made on digital listening, digital radio in cars, coverage and consumer perception.
“Digital listening grew at 16% a year to 36.8% (Q2 2012) and over 40% of new cars now have DAB as standard. BBC national coverage is 94.4%, commercial national is now 89.5% and local DAB coverage has increased to 71.7% of UK households. The report identified that DAB household penetration is growing strongly (now in 46% of homes) with DAB radio sales steady at 1.9 million a year. Meanwhile, analogue radio sales are falling 21% per annum. The main benefits associated with digital radio by listeners are clear and high quality sound, and a wider choice of stations.”