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Digital radio hits the road

Digital radios should become standard in new cars from the beginning of 2014 after vehicle makers agreed to adopt the proposals made in the Digital Britain White Paper, which allows for FM stations to be turned off from 2015.

Though the news has been welcomed by the radio industry, some broadcasters must be scratching their heads and wondering if this is too little too late.

Tony Moretta, chief executive of the Digital Radio Development Bureau, said: “It will be a big logistical challenge but we have finally take the first step on the road to converting all cars.”

Stuart Harris, Vauxhall’s product development director, added: “On our Astra and Insignia models, digital radio is already either built in or a £150 upgrade option, and by 2013 it will be available across all our models.”

Installing digital radios in cars is seen as a key step to ensuring that digital becomes the principal way in which Britons listen to radio. Although about a third of British homes have a digital set, only a handful of the 30 million cars on the road have digital receivers.

Digital Britain’s goal is to ensure that all new cars either have digital radio sold as standard from 2014, or can be upgraded cheaply. What is less clear is how older vehicles will be brought into the scheme.

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