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Radio to go digital by 2015

Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw has announced the government’s intention to upgrade all national stations from analogue to digital by 2015. The statement preceded the hotly anticipated Digital Britain report.

The report also includes a recommendation that all new car radios sold in the UK by the end of 2013 should be digital, similar to legislation already introduced in France. Leading car manufacturers in the UK have expressed support for such a recommendation that sets out a timetable for the industry to move from analogue to digital.

Vauxhall’s Group Product Manager, Stuart Harris, says: “The certainty of digital switchover provided by the Digital Britain report will enable us to develop our support for DAB still further and we believe we are in a good position to comply with the recommendations for the car industry contained within it.”

Another key development for radio will see the development of what the Report calls ultra-local radio a new tier of radio which will occupy the FM spectrum vacated by the services migrating to DAB. Aiming to give the platform a key role in what the Rport calls, ‘radio’s continued contribution to the UK’s cultural life and local democratic debate’. Radio stations currently broadcasting on medium wave will upgrade to DAB.

The switchover will be announced two years in advance and not until digital accounts for 50 percent of all radio listening, said the report.

RadioCentre, the industry body for Commercial Radio welcomed the report’s findings.

Andrew Harrison, chief executive for RadioCentre said: “For radio to flourish in the digital age we require a digital strategy and, on first inspection, we are encouraged that Digital Britain sets out a clear roadmap for our industry’s future.

“We think that Digital Britain is right to identify a target date of 2015 to upgrade our sector to digital radio whilst also recognising the importance of meeting key criteria to trigger switchover and the need for intervention to drive the behaviour of manufacturers, the motor industry and other stakeholders. This will enable our members to plan and invest for their future; we now have a firm consensus that digital is the route forward for radio’s future.”

Report author and communications minister Lord Carter is due to quit his post for a role with ITV during the summer recess.

The report was a joint effort between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, formerly the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

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