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U.K. Now Aiming for 2017 Digital Radio Switchover?

Daily Mail cites leaked government memo pointing to delays in analog sunset

The United Kingdom has abandoned the 2015 “aspirational” target date to phase out analog radio in favor of digital. So reports the Daily Mail newspaper, citing a leaked government memo.

The document suggests a 2017 start is more likely, and that loss of analog services probably would have to be phased in by region over several more years.

“The technology has failed to grip the public’s imagination as the shift to digital TV did, and there is opposition from FM loyalists who cannot see the point of moving the major stations off the analog service,” the newspaper notes. It also estimates that 130 million analog radios would be obsoleted by the process.

The U.K. uses DAB digital radio technology; DAB requires different spectrum than analog, and the stations using the technology share digital transmission facilities.

The radio industry probably can’t afford the transmitter infrastructure costs associated with a digital switchover before 2017, according to the leaked memo, which the newspaper says was written by a federal employee in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Part of the problem is the need to build out local digital radio to match the coverage area of analog FM, according to the account.