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Final ‘Digital Britain’ Report Issued

'Ultra-local' radio stations would move into vacated FM space as part of timetable

All the United Kingdom’s national radio stations and many local services will stop broadcasting on analog by the end of 2015 under the government’s timetable announced in the final “Digital Britain” report, the Guardian newspaper reports.

The Guardian also said the vacated FM spectrum would be filled by “a new tier of ultra-local radio consisting of small local commercial and community stations.”

The switchover is to be announced two years in advance and not until digital accounts for half of all radio listening. RW has reported on the progress of this proposal in its various stages.

The government also required that DAB must be comparable to current FM coverage, and DAB must reach 90% of all the population and all major roads before the upgrade timetable can begin, the Guardian summarized.

Advocates say digital radio in the U.K. now accounts for more than 20% of listening and hope the U.K.’s digital migration will act as a catalyst for other Euro markets.

Semiconductor supplier Frontier Silicon said it welcomes the recommendations in the final report and the proposed completion of a digital migration within six years.

“Today’s report … favors DAB as the preferred platform for future radio broadcasting in the U.K. and calls on a commitment from the car industry to facilitate digital switchover by means of a five-point plan,” Frontier states.

The company said it supplies technology for the majority of digital radios sold in Britain and that it anticipates a three-fold business increase in annual shipments or sales over three years thanks to the migration. It also said it looked forward to meeting the challenge presented by the government’s stipulation that the cost of the cheapest DAB radio must fall below £20.