Digital radio switch could be by 2015
* 20 million car radios could be redundant? * Government set to continue digital switchover * New equipment needed to receive it...
The Government is expected to go ahead with plans to switch from analogue to digital radio from 2015, but has conceded the date might slip if consumer uptake fails to increase.
Such a switch could make around 20 million car stereos obsolete. Just 1% of the cars on UK roads currently have the ability to receive digital signals. However, the Government has said that it would not switch off FM transmissions at the same time.
Warnings of public anger
There has already been criticism 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 because car manufacturers are continuing to fit analogue radios and will not make digital units standard until 2013.
Is DAB all bad news?
UK digital coverage stands at around 90% compared with 99% for FM. Digital signals are also more susceptible to coverage problems because they will cut out completely rather than continue at a reduced quality.
On the plus side, however, digital radio will offer a wider choice of radio stations and genres. Sound quality will also be superior to that of 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.'
How can I go digital?
Ford is fitting DAB receivers to more of its models, and plug-in converters are available for around 60.