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Call for All Radios to Be “Digital by Default”

Converting cars still a challenge as Norwegian switchover nears completion

Harriet Scott from Magic Radio opens the Drive to Digital conference.
Credit: Stuart Clarkson

LONDON The United Kingdom’s Minister for Digital, Matt Hancock, has called for producers and suppliers of radios to ensure all new devices are “digital by default,” in an interview via video at the Drive to Digital conference, which took place in September at the British Museum in London.

With digital listening in the U.K. approaching 50 percent, Hancock noted the need to proceed carefully with any switchover, saying, “We’ve got to bring people with us … so that everybody has the chance to move onto the new technology.”

Ford Ennals of Digital Radio U.K. introduces Minister for Digital Matt Hancock on video.
Credit: Stuart Clarkson

Digital Radio U.K.’s Laurence Harrison (far left) speaks to Ole Jørgen Torvmark of Digital Radio Norway (center left).
Credit: Stuart Clarkson

New DAB radios on display at Drive to Digital in London.
Credit: Stuart Clarkson

Just days after most FM signals were switched off in Oslo, the CEO of Digital Radio Norway, Ole Jørgen Torvmark, updated the conference on his country’s switchover. “Norway’s transition from analog to digital radio is progressing well,” he said. “In Nordland, the first region to make the switch, listening figures are now hitting the same level as before the switchover. This is in line with our forecasts, and is also what we expect to see for the rest of the country next year.”

Torvmark projected that almost 1 million cars would be converted to digital when the switchover program is complete this month, significantly boosting the digital radio car adapter market across Europe. However in the U.K., despite 90 percent of new cars now coming with DAB as standard, it is estimated that there are still 25 million cars on the road that do not have digital radio.

To address this, Nextbase, Europe’s best-selling dash-cam brand, and Roberts Radio, the U.K. market leader in portable radios, used the event to unveil new digital radio adapters, while Halfords Autocentres announced a pilot digital radio upgrade service this autumn, ahead of a national launch in the new year.

Will Jackson reports on the industry for Radio World from London.