Ed Vaizey will tell a conference of over 200 broadcasters, manufacturers, retailers and industry stakeholders today that the future of UK radio is digital and the countdown to three major landmarks has started.
The conference entitled Radio’s Digital Countdown marks the start of the countdown to major landmarks for digital radio in content, coverage and cars in the next year with the launch of the second national commercial digital radio multiplex, Sound Digital, in the next 6 months; the completion of the planned expansion of national and local DAB coverage in the next 12 months; and the expected completion of the provision of digital radio in over 90% of new cars, also within 12 months.
Speaking at the event Ed Vaizey will say that he is confident that the move to digital will be accelerated by the launch of new digital stations, the expansion of DAB coverage towards FM levels, and the introduction of DAB radios into new cars.
The Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy will highlight the launch of Sound Digital in early 2016, the second national commercial digital radio multiplex, which he will describe as game-changing.
Delegates at the conference will hear more on Sound Digital from UTV Media, Bauer Media and Arqiva, the consortium behind the new national multiplex, set to deliver at least 15 national digital radio services. At that time, there will be over 40 stations available across the UK on DAB covering varied musical genres, news, sport and business, including new national spoken word radio stations to compete with the BBC.
Mr Vaizey will further announce that nearly three quarters (74.1%) of all new cars sold this September had DAB digital radios fitted as standard compared with 57% last September. In Q3 2015, according to CAP/SMMT, a total of 530,000 cars were fitted with DAB as standard.
The Minister will also confirm good progress on the Government, BBC and commercial radio’s plans to build a further 182 local DAB transmitters to meet the Government coverage criteria of matching local FM equivalence and announce the completion of the 30th new local DAB transmitter site in South Wales last week.
Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, said: “There’s no doubt that the future of radio is digital. More than 30 million of us are tuning in every week, with digital listening hours increasing every year. Today’s conference has highlighted the great progress that’s been made across the 3 Cs of digital radio – content, coverage and cars – offering listeners more choice than ever before.”
In a further announcement at today’s event, manufacturer Pure and Sound Digital will confirm details of a strategic partnership which will support the launch of Pure’s new in-car digital radio adapter in spring 2016.