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Ennals Unsure of U.K. Digital Switchover Date

Emphasizes need for certainty in planning

According to RadioToday, Ford Ennals, head of Digital Radio UK, says that the DAB switchover could still be years down the road.

On the weekly program, he said that the conflict between smaller commercial radio operators and industry bodies is over the pace of change. He also speculated that a digital-only strategy could be years away, despite the 2015 target date.

“I expect the minister [Ed Vaizey] to say it’s the right policy and strategy, but that the industry and the consumers just aren’t ready yet,” said Ennals.

“I know the people who represent the 228 community stations think this is a great opportunity to enrich the diversity of local radio,” Ennals said of the plan to use FM for local commercial and community radio. “For small stations below the threshold of 40 percent of TSA (where DAB doesn’t adequately cover their area), what DCMS are minded to do is to provide them an option to go to digital through small-scale DAB transmissions.”

Jimmy Buckland, director of Strategy at UTV Media, also spoke on behalf of the coalition of smaller operators. “There are very significant questions about how stations will be transmitted in the future, about which areas those stations will be able to cover and how listeners will access radio. We feel maybe it’s time for some of that debate to move out from behind closed doors.”