United Kingdom Eyes Digital Radio Migration

‘Possible framework’ with 2020 shutoff discussed.
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Analog radio would be shut off in the United Kingdom in 2020 under a recommended — albeit interim — timeline in a government-commissioned report.

The report is from the UK Digital Radio Working Group, which includes representatives of industry, manufacturers and regulators. It recommends establishment of a timetable to switch from analog to DAB digital radio in the U.K. with a suggested completion date of 2020.

“The interim report suggests that all national, regional and larger local radio stations would be broadcast on DAB digital radio, with some FM frequencies retained for small and community radio stations,” according to a summary by the digital advocacy group WorldDMB, which believes the recommendation “gives an injection of new confidence into the country’s radio industry.”

The working group’s interim recommendations are that the government should make a clear statement on the future of digital radio; it should agree on a set of criteria and a timetable for the migration to digital; and these criteria should include an assessment of the percentage of listening to DAB-enabled devices, current and planned coverage of DAB and FM, the take-up of digital radio in cars, affordability, functionality and an environmental impact plan.

The aim, it said, should be to meet these criteria by between 2012 and 2015 with migration completed by 2020. But it also acknowledged obstacles and significant planning and coordination that would be required to make that happen.

WorldDMB President Quentin Howard said the report “will give added confidence to other European countries that the DAB family of standards is the right choice for a pan-European digital radio future.” The Eureka-147 standard includes DAB, DAB+ and DMB. Advocates say it is successful in Denmark, Norway, Belgium and Switzerland, with trials or rollouts happening in numerous other countries.

The organization quoted the country’s Culture Secretary Andy Burnham as saying in Parliament, “I am pleased that the group has set a possible framework for digital radio migration.”


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