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Ofcom Releases Digital Radio Progress Report

Report shows varying coverage, increased digital listening

The United Kingdom government launched its Digital Radio Action Plan in July 2010, requiring Ofcom to publish an annual report on the road to a potential digital switchover.

The 2013 edition includes data on digital device listening and coverage progress for the 12 months ending June 2013.

Coverage varies by platform. According to the report, the BBC’s national multiplex covers 94.4 percent of homes, the national commercial digital multiplex covers 89.5 percent of homes and local DAB multiplexes are estimated to cover 71.7 percent of households. Over 98 percent receive digital TV services that carry digital radio stations.

RAJAR data shows that over a third of all radio listening hours during the period were tuned to a digital platform.

Listening on a DAB set accounted for 64.9 percent of all digital listening hours, and the popularity of listening through the Internet or apps is now 14.9 percent.

Four of the stations only digitally available were listened to by at least 1 million listeners weekly. BBC 6 Music had 1.74 million listeners, followed by BBC Radio 4 Extra with 1.66 million and 1Xtra from the BBC with 1.1 million. Commercial station Absolute 80s increased its reach to 1.01 million.

Over one third of the 5.6 million radio sets sold in the past year included a DAB tuner, and about 38 percent of new cars are also now fitted with DAB as standard.

Approximately 46 percent of the U.K. population says they own a DAB digital radio, but DAB take-up ranges from 54.4 percent in Surrey to 18.1 percent in the Scottish Borders, said the report.

Research also shows those in the AB group are the most likely (67 percent) to listen to digital radio at least monthly, and 62 percent of those aged 16-24 also listen monthly.

Among listeners who do not have a DAB digital radio at home, 14 percent say they are “likely,” “very likely” or “certain” to buy a set in the next year; but 58 percent of those without a set said they were “unlikely,” “very unlikely” or “certain not to” buy one.