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Traffic Radio funding pulled

Traffic Radio, the service available on digital radio and online that's paid for by the UK government, is to have its funding pulled when the current contract ends next summer.

RadioToday.co.uk can exclusively reveal the plans, which leaves DAB's future in doubt if even the government seemingly aren't prepared to support niche formats on the platform.

A spokesman for quango the Highways Agency, which is funded by the Department for Transport, told RadioToday.co.uk: "Given the financial pressures this country faces, it is vital that every pound is spent wisely. We have looked at Traffic Radio closely to make sure that taxpayers money is being spent in a cost-effective way and have decided that the service should not continue once the current contract ends in August 2011."

Traffic Radio [link=https://radiotoday.co.uk/news.php?extend.6286.2]hit the headlines[/link] earlier this year after claims the service had cost taxpayers £10.4m, even though only around 500,000 of the country's 32 million vehicles could receive it via DAB.

The Highways Agency spokesman added: "We will continue to provide information to media partners for onward delivery through DAB, FM, AM and digital channels to ensure we keep drivers on our roads up to date. We hope to review our position in the future as DAB becomes better established."

Traffic Radio is managed and produced for the Highways Agency by Global Traffic Network (GTN) and is broadcast on 30 local DAB multiplexes, as well as online and via smartphone apps.

It's understood GTN were in talks to put the station onto new DAB multiplexes yet to launch, meaning its potential withdrawal could see transmission fees rise for other broadcasters who have to share the cost between fewer stations.

A spokesman for GTN told RadioToday.co.uk he was keen for the service to continue after the end of August and that they would continue to invest in and develop the station in the interim. "We're exploring with all parties -including the Highways Agency and Transport for London – how future funding for Traffic Radio could be sourced," he said. "We'll be conducting our own research about the current audience of the station and until we have the outcome of that it's too early to comment on the nature of the service post-August 2011, or the platforms it would be broadcast on."

This government decision to withdraw funding comes just days after the Transport Secretary Philip Hammond promised a review of how authorities coped with the recent cold spell, and seemed to imply that communicating information to the public would be a renewed priority. Last week, Mr Hammond told reporters: "Unfortunately, in extreme weather conditions some disruption is inevitable but there is no excuse for poor communication with passengers and motorists."

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