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UK DAB switchover decision due in 2013

Kevin Hilton 19 December 2012
UK DAB switchover decision due in 2013

The UK government will make a public announcement about switching off analogue radio transmissions during the fourth quarter of 2013. No date has been confirmed yet but any statement may include a timetable for a switchover to a mainly DAB radio network, although FM transmissions will not end completely. Laurence Harrison, technology and market development director of Digital Radio UK (pictured), says a switchover for radio could only go ahead once two criteria had been met. These state that local DAB coverage has to be 90 percent and national UK coverage equivalent to FM, while 50 percent of all radio listening would have to over digital platforms. Harrison comments that the current digital radio listening figure is 31.3 percent and hopes that the two targets will be met "around the end of 2015". The government, the BBC and commercial broadcasters have signed a memorandum of understanding to finance the building of local coverage from 66 percent to 90 percent by the end of 2015. National BBC DAB coverage today is at 94 percent and funding has reportedly been made available to reach 97 percent, which is equivalent to FM. Even though the term switchover is being used for radio it would not involve FM being turned off completely. While national, regional and big local stations would move fully to DAB, some smaller local and community stations would remain on FM. Consequently the Digital Radio UK technical spec includes FM. www.getdigitalradio.com

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