Friday 9 July 2010

Digital radio switchover due by 2015 (UK)

The Government is likely to go ahead with plans to replace analogue with digital radio from 2015, but has agreed on the date, if consumer uptake fails to rise.

The switch-over could make approximately 20m car stereos outmoded. Just 1% of cars on UK roads currently have the capability to receive digital signals. Nevertheless, the Government said that it wouldn’t switch off FM transmissions at the same time.

There has already been disapproval of the digital switchover strategy by the Communications Committee of the House of Lords. It has warned of a 'major negative public reaction' to the switch-over, as car manufacturers are continuing to fit analogue radios and will not make digital units compulsory until 2013.

The UK digital coverage stands at around 90% compared with 99% for FM. Digital signals are also more vulnerable to coverage problems because they will cut out completely rather than carry on at low quality. On a more positive note, digital radio will offer a wider range of radio stations and genres. Sound quality will also be much better than analogue.

A spokesperson for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said: 'SMMT believes a collaborative approach is needed between broadcasters, government and the industry to raise consumer awareness. We also believe specific attention is needed to develop digital radio's range and coverage to ensure it is a viable solution for motorists. Our vehicle manufacturers are confident of the 2013 target for inclusion of digital radio within all new cars sold. We are also discussing ways that we can ensure upgrades to older cars are carried out by appropriately trained and qualified technicians.'

Ford, Vauxhall & Volkswagen are fitting DAB receivers to more models, and plug-in converters are accessible for about £60.

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