Digital radio – the future? - £21m investment for digital radio switchover

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  • 42% of new cars have DAB as standard
  • Halfords to stop selling analogue radios by 2015
  • No date set for switchover

The Government has announced a £21 million investment package to help prepare the market for a digital radio switchover. 

The £21 million will be spent on the installment of new transmitters at 200 sites and along 4600 miles of roads across the UK in order to help boost digital coverage in local areas to FM levels.

Halfords announced that it will stop selling analogue radio units by 2015, while the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) confirmed that 42% of new cars sold in 2013 had DAB fitted as standard. A further 20% had digital radio fitted as an optional extra.

Nine of the UK’s best-selling 10 cars – the Ford Fiesta; Ford Focus; Vauxhall Corsa; Vauxhall Astra; Volkswagen Golf; BMW 3 Series; BMW 1 Series; Volkswagen Polo; and Peugeot 208 have DAB radio as part of their standard kit.

Meanwhile, a new digital ‘tick mark’ logo has been approved for DAB radios sold in the UK. The DVLA will also help to keep car owners informed car owners by including digital radio updates in its tax reminders.

Speaking at a conference in London on Monday, 16 December, Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, said that no date could be set for the switchover until digital coverage, service and listening choice had improved.

The funding will be provided by the Department of Culture Media and Sport, the BBC, and commercial radio stations to boost coverage and service quality, and educate consumers. Ofcom will also help fund small local radio stations to develop new channels.

By Emma Butcher

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