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New report for Digital Upgrade

The second report into the digital switchover from the House of Lords Communications Committee was published this morning.

It emphasised the need for greater clarity in the DAB upgrade plan, and highlights public confusion and industry uncertainty, with calls for every new radio to contain FM, DAB and DAB+.

It also says the government needs to put in place a radio scrappage scheme for old FM radio sets and a fund to help poorer people make the switch.

But the committee has warned there could be a danger of a major public reaction when the radio switchover policy is implemented.

"If the UK is to go ahead with digital switchover, there needs to be the utmost clarity as to what will happen, in order that the consumer and the industry can proceed with confidence." the report says.

If current plans for 2015 go ahead, between 50 and 100 million analogue radios will become largely redundant and around 20 million car radios will need a converter. "The Government should work with car manufacturers to ensure that digital car radios are fitted with multi-standard chips as soon as possible and inform consumers of availability and benefits of digital radios containing the multi-standard chip."

Digital Radio UK welcomes the news, as Ford Ennals, Chief Executive, Digital Radio UK, said: “We very much share the Committee’s view that radio and its listeners deserve a digital future and are pleased that it has given its support not only to this digital future, but also to DAB and the target date of 2015. We note that the committee has recognised that the key elements to delivering this digital future, namely improved coverage of the digital signal across the UK, richer content and digital radio in cars, are already underway.

"We also note the Committee’s significant and healthy progress report on television switchover, given the high degree of public concern it faced at the equivalent point in the process. The Committee's recommendations underline that public communication is essential learning from the success of the digital television switchover campaigns”

The topic was also debated on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning, with guests Andrew Harrison from RadioCentre/Digital Radio UK, and the Guardian's computer editor Jack Schofield.

Andrew explained to presenter John Humphrys why we need to go digital, which was challeneged with the fact that FM radio works perfectly fine at the moment so there is no need to change.

Andrew replied: "We need to go digital because FM is full," to which Jack said there was no evidence that people are crying out for new radio stations.

Discussing the switchover date of 2015 Jack says: " It's not going to happen."

The full report can be downloaded [link=http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200910/ldselect/ldcomuni/100/100.pdf]here[/link].

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