UK: The Digital Radio Working Group (DRWG) has issued a major report on the future of UK digital radio, writes David Davies. Among other conclusions, the report recommends that the government should establish a timetable for moving practically all radio stations from FM to DAB during the next decade.
Commissioned by the UK government's DCMS (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), the DRWG report runs to 26 pages and, most significantly, lays out an 'aspirational timetable' for the migration to digital radio. Notable milestones along the way include sales of DAB radios to exceed their analogue equivalents (2010), the fitting of all new cars with digital radios (2014), and the announcement by government of a date for digital migration (2015 approx).
Subsequent to this, the migration of all national services to DAB would be achieved in approximately 2017. UK analogue radio broadcasting would be likely to cease completely by 2020.
The report concluded by calling for cross-industry action to support the migration, noting that "the drive to digital cannot, and should not, be driven by government and Ofcom alone_ Only through collective action across all stakeholders will the recommendations in this report become embedded and have real success."
Moving forward, the DRWG recommends the creation of a new independent stakeholder group to assess issues including methods to drive take-up of DAB, particularly in cars.
Digital multimedia solution provider Frontier Silicon was among the companies to welcome the new report. CEO Anthony Sethill (pictured) commented: "Digital radio is here to stay, with DAB sets outselling analogue models by six to one. As and when the government adopts the recommendation of this report, we will see the success of digital television repeated in radio within the next ten years."