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More homes to get DAB Radio

Fifty per-cent of homes will have a digital radio set by the year 2010, according to new figures released today by the Digital Radio Development Bureau.

The DRDB also says that sales in 2006 will be around the two million mark, delivering a household penetration of 13.9% by the end of the year.

The forecast, which tracks DAB set sales across all categories, was audited by media analysts Oliver and Ohlbaum. Using a bottom-up analysis of the current DAB set market, it also considers the dramatic shift within the audio market in recent years as listeners find non-traditional ways to consume radio — a trend that is expected to continue.

DRDB chief executive, Ian Dickens, says: “Over the past four years, we have seen a dramatic rise in the number of DAB digital radio sets available to consumers and there are now around 300 different models available from all the leading consumer electronic brands. Having established a firm product base in the traditional radio market, our aim is to ensure DAB digital radio is also available across a broader range of devices as digital convergence continues. To meet these needs, DAB digital radio must be included in new multi purpose devices and the good news is that the first such products are already hitting the streets.”

With the launch this month of the first mobile phone able to receive DAB stations — the Virgin Mobile Lobster 700 — a new path to DAB reception is expected to emerge. There is already a range of combined DAB/MP3 players available, and this market is likely to double by Christmas. And, later this year, the first MP3 docking stations with DAB digital radio inside are expected in stores, from a number of key brands.

Figures released by Rajar show that listening to digital radio is on the rise, and that DAB remains the medium of choice for digital listening, delivering more than DTV and the Internet combined. They go on to report that listeners to a DAB digital radio set consume 16% more radio each week compared to those listening on an analogue reviever.

This year, retailers such as Marks & Spencer and Tesco have had a big impact on DAB sales, and an announcement from Dixons Stores Group International that it would no longer stock analogue radios in its on-line store, was a significant step towards the de-ranging of non-digital radio.

In the automobile sector, BMW is the latest manufacturer to start offering DAB digital radio across their 3 series, 5 series, 6 and 7 series range of cars with immediate effect.

Dickens says: “With a DAB radio, listeners can receive around twice the stations they can on an analogue radio and this is proving to be a big plus. As DAB chips appear in converging technologies such as mobile phones and MP3 players, and we see new DAB stations launching over the coming months, we expect this attraction to grow, presenting a healthy future for the UK’s radio industry.”

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