£21m to help digital radio push

A further £21 million is to be ploughed into expanding digital radio coverage because public consumption is still way off the level needed to allow a switchover from analogue.

Press Association
Last updated: 13 March 2019 - 9.20pm

A further £21 million is to be ploughed into expanding digital radio coverage because public consumption is still way off the level needed to allow a switchover from analogue.

The target is to get 50% of the UK listening via digital before a decision is made about a full conversion to digital but penetration is still only at 35.6%.

Communications minister Ed Vaizey announced the investment in a speech today with cash coming from the BBC, the Government and commercial radio to provide an extension to coverage with digital.

Broadcasting regulator Ofcom will also next year advertise the licence to enable a second batch of commercial stations to launch digital nationally.

The previous government had hoped to switch off the analogue signal by 2015 but Mr Vaizey has ruled out setting a date. Digital listening has risen from 21.1% in 2009.

He said at a conference today: "I have always said that the radio listener will lead the transition to digital. Listening should be at 50%. Coverage needs to be built out with firm plans in place to match FM coverage for all stations moving from analogue.

"We are not there yet. So now is not the time to switch over."

He added: "This package of measures is intended to cement this and herald in a digital age, as and when the consumer is ready."

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