Digital reprieve as FM switch on hold

The Government has delayed switching off FM transmitters in favour of digital radio.

The Government has delayed switching off FM transmitters in favour of digital radio. - Credit: PA

Millions of car owners have been saved from missing out on listening to the radio in their cars as the government has delayed switching off FM transmitters in favour of digital radio.

The move comes as the government admits that more needs to be done to convince radio-users to switch to DAB digital radio instead of sticking with FM.

Communications minister Ed Vaizey said: “We have to support digital radio, but we also respect people’s passion for radio and not being made to do something they don’t want to.”

Digital radio currently accounts for about a third (36.5%) of all radio listening, but take-up has been lower among car drivers who are used to FM. The government has said that until digital radio listening accounts for more than half of all radio listeners it cannot justify switching off the FM transmitters.

Many car companies now offer DAB digital radio as standard or an option and they are working with the government to reach a workable solution. It’s hoped half of all new cars sold in 2014 will be fitted with DAB digital radio.


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However, millions of older cars do not have digital radio fitted and it’s estimated 95% of all cars on UK roads do not have digital access.

A new deal has been made between Digital Radio UK and the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) to provide drivers with information about upgrading their car to digital listening. A new ‘tick’ mark is planned so drivers will know that digital radio equipment has been approved for use. All cars with a radio can be converted to receive digital with an adapter.

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