BBC Director of Radio and Music Says Analog FM Shutdown Would Be “Premature”

The Beeb's Bob Shennan wants to keep FM radio for the foreseeable future
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LONDON — The BBC says it wants to keep FM radio for the foreseeable future, rather than switch over to digital only broadcasts.

BBC Director of Radio and Music Bob Shennan said that audiences want choice. "We need to do more in the UK before we consider a switchover and for that to be genuinely led by the audience," he told a conference in Vienna. "We are fully committed to digital and we believe we should review the landscape again in a few years' time."

Analog radio was originally due to be shut down in the UK in 2015, but the Government shelved its plans after it emerged that not enough listeners had made the switch to DAB, according to whathifi.com. It announced it would only consider a full switchover when 50% of people consumed radio from digital sources and 90% of the population was covered. Now that digital sources now provide nearly 50% of radio usage in the country, those plans are due to be reviewed later this spring.

[Read: BBC AM Stations Shut Down in Some Parts of the UK]

Shennan told the Radiodays Europe audience that it would be "premature" to shutdown analog. "Great progress has been made but switchover now would be premature," he said. "For now we believe audiences are best served by a mixed economy.”

Even with DAB greatly expanded across the UK, coverage and reception can still be patchy in some areas and while the majority of new cars are outfitted with DAB radios, millions without them are still on the roads. 

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