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Rajar: Radio Listening Reaches New High in the UK

The country is creeping ever closer to the government’s goal of digital radio accounting for 50% of all radio listening

LONDON � The latest figures from Rajarshow an increase of nearly half a million radio listeners in the past year in the UK. Radio listening plateaued in 2011 and 2012, but in the past few years there�s been somewhat of a digital radio renaissance, according to

Nine-tenths of the UK population (about 48.7 million adults) are tuning in regularly to the radio (considering all listening sources). In fact, radio use in the UK is now at record levels, with the average radio listener tuning into 21.5 hours of live radio every week. For decades FM has held the largest proportion of the radio audience, but lately it�s been on the decline � losing 4.1% of listeners in the last year alone. Over-the-air DAB is the most popular platform for digital radio listening, but there�s been a recent rise in the number of people tuning in to internet radio � due in no small part to the near-universal adoption of smartphones and tablets, as well as the convenience of being able to access the radio through smart TVs, apps and online.

�Although internet radio still has a way to go to match DAB or FM radio, it is drawing away listeners from the other platforms. This is due to how easy it is to access, but also the sheer amount of stations � over 100,000 available worldwide � and the fact that the sound quality is often better because it isn�t subject to signal strength or aerial reception,� according to the same article. �For years now there�s been talk of traditional analog radio being turned off in the UK in favor of digital radio. But with many steadfastly committed to FM, and patchy DAB reception in rural areas still a problem, it�s seemed unlikely that the government would force through such an unpopular measure.�

The UK is, however, creeping ever closer to the government�s goal of digital radio accounting for 50% of all radio listening. Currently, that figure is at 45.2%, and every quarter sees increases, causing some industry experts to predict that digital listeners will overtake those listening on FM frequencies by the end of this year, or early next.

If and when the decision is taken by the government for the FM switch-off, it�s not going to be a quick process, as the government has said it will carry out a thorough review before deciding how to proceed. ��the earliest the digital radio switchover could be expected is 2018, although with Brexit on the cards and a number of other pressing issues, it�s looking less and less likely to happen before 2020,� according to the same article.