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UK Minister to Legislate Licensing and Regulation to Support Small-Scale DAB Multiplexes

The minister spoke at a radio industry event to reinforce the importance of digital radio and the progress made

LONDON� Matt Hancock MP, minister of State for Digital and Culture, confirmed the UK Government�s support for digital radio and the radio industry�s digital transition during his first public speech on radio at yesterday�s Radio Academy Radio Festival.

The minister spoke at one of the radio industry�s highest profile events to reinforce the importance of digital radio and the progress made on listening, cars and coverage, in addition to the success of the Ofcom small-scale DAB trials.�

Highlighting that UK radio has readily embraced new digital platforms, the minister said: �UK radio is well ahead here � both the BBC and commercial. As a result of more choice, increased car installation, and DAB coverage build out, 45% of all listening is now via a digital platform, and 30 million adults now own a digital radio � including myself, of course.�

The minister also noted� that by the end of 2016, thanks to the partnership with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, 90% of new cars in the UK should have DAB installed as standard equipment and that DAB coverage will substantially match national and local FM thanks to the partnership between DCMS, BBC and commercial radio.

Hancock said that use of digital radio makes spectrum available for new stations that would not be able to broadcast otherwise and cited the recent launch of diverse national stations such as Magic Chilled, Union Jack and Awesome � the UK�s first national Muslim radio station.

The minister confirmed that the 50% digital listening threshold is important and needs to be met before the government �considers the merits of setting out a timetable for digital switchover.� �He said that this issue will need careful consideration when the 50% listening criteria is reached.

The minister welcomed Ofcom�s announcement of the results of the successful DCMS-funded small-scale DAB trials and said that he intended to introduce legislation at the earliest practical opportunity to create a licensing and regulatory framework that would support small-scale DAB multiplexes.