Digital radio switchover delayed by in-car technology

A date for the switchover to digital radio cannot be set until more cars are equipped with DAB radio.

The date for the switchover to digital radio has been pushed back until more cars are using DAB technology.

Communications minister Ed Vaizey said at a recent Go Digital conference that a new date cannot be set until digital coverage, service and listening choice had been improved. Once DAB accounts for 50 per cent of all radio listening then the government will be able to set a switchover date, at present the figure is 35.6 per cent despite rising from 21.1 per cent in 2009. One of the main hurdles is making sure more cars are fitted with digital radio systems.

Yet initiatives are being unveiled to encourage more drivers to switch to DAB. For example, a new "tick" mark will be used on approved digital radio sets while DVLA will ensure that there is information about digital radio when it issues tax reminders.

Companies are also doing what they can to help with the digital switchover. Halfords has announced that it will stop selling analogue radios by the year 2015. Meanwhile, 42 per cent of new vehicles were fitted with DAB as standard in 2013 while 20 per cent can have it added as an optional extra according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Volvo is one company that has been reminding customers that all new models in its range, with the exception of the XC90, are fitted with a DAB radio as standard. For people who already have Volvo vehicles, an aftermarket upgrade is available from local Volvo dealerships and it is expected that 267,000 drivers can take advantage of this.

A total of £21 million has been pooled by the BBC, the government and commercial radio to pay for the digital switchover.

Among the plans that Mr Vaizey intends to use the funds for to improve digital radio are a new national multiplex, which includes a host of new national digital radio stations, and improved digital audio broadcasting coverage.

  • On: 17 December 2013
  • By: CarShop

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