LONDON�Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, today announced the single biggest expansion of local digital radio coverage in the UK, meaning nearly eight million more people will receive their favorite local radio stations via DAB.
Speaking at the Drive to Digital: NOW conference held by Digital Radio UK and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) at BBC Broadcasting House, Mr. Vaizey confirmed that:
���� Latest figures released show that 61 percent of new cars came with digital radio fitted as standard � more than 1.37 million new cars sold in 2014;
���� 182 new digital transmitters will be built by 2016 � this will double the network of local digital transmitters and increase coverage of local DAB from 72 percent to 91 percent � in line with commercial radio FM coverage;
���� Ofcom has received competing bids from two major broadcast consortia � Sound Digital and Listen2Digital � for the new national commercial network (D2) � this will provide radio listeners with an extra 15 or more digital new stations which could be on air in early 2016; and
���� Radio listening figures � Rajar � show that digital listening has reached 37.9 percent of all listening hours, compared with 20.9 percent in Q4 2009.
�Digital radio is the future of radio in the UK and I am delighted that Government has been able to play its part in this major expansion which will help accelerate the transition to digital radio,� said Vaizey.
The new transmitters are being jointly funded by the Government, the BBC and the commercial multiplex operators. Work to deliver the infrastructure � which forms part of the Government�s long-term economic plan � will start next month (March) and complete in the second half of 2016.
The expansion of local DAB radio is getting underway as the expansion of BBC national DAB coverage completes, with 162 new national digital transmitters being built to bring the coverage of BBC national stations on DAB to 97 per cent. 80 of these new national transmitters are now in place with a further 82 to be built by the end of 2015. This program of new local and national transmitters will mean that the national coverage element of the Government�s radio switchover criteria could now be met by late 2016.