London - Dec 16, 2013 - At the 2013 Go Digital Conference, Ed Vaizey, the minister for culture, communications and creative industries, confirmed the UK government's vision of a digital future for radio and said he wanted to continue to improve the service, and to reach coverage and listening criteria before a radio switchover date is announced.
Vaizey confirmed that the UK is not ready for an AM/FM to digital radio switchover and that consumer listening and DAB coverage criteria would need to be met in order for switchover dates to be set. He said that funding was in place for Ofcom to develop a route to digital for small local stations. "I absolutely believe that the future of radio in this country is digital. We cannot go backwards. The radio listener will get a much better service, and better functionality. There will be far more choice, with many more stations. The UK is at the forefront of developments in digital radio. This package of measures is intended to cement this and herald in a digital age, as and when the consumer is ready," said the minister.
Government criteria for setting a date for digital radio switchover are:
■ Digital listening share to reach 50 percent of all listening hours
■ When local commercial and national DAB coverage reaches FM equivalence
■ Significant progress on conversion of cars to digital radio
Digital Radio UK and the BBC, Global Radio, Bauer Media and Arqiva welcomed the confirmation of government and broadcaster investment in new local DAB transmitters, which was regarded as good news for listeners and car drivers. They also welcomed the announcement of a second national commercial multiplex in 2014 that will allow for new national stations on DAB. These major initiatives will help towards meeting the switchover coverage and listening criteria, and so support the preparations for a future radio switchover.