Minister confirms commitment to future of DAB

The Minister for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock confirmed the Government’s support for digital radio and the digital transition in his first public speech at the Radio Academy Radio Festival.

Mr Hancock (pictured) also reinforced the importance of digital radio and the progress made on listening, cars and coverage, as well as the success of the Ofcom small-scale DAB trails.

“UK radio is well ahead here – both the BBC and commercial,” he said. “As a result of more choice, increased car installation, and DAB coverage build-out, 45 per cent of all listening is now via a digital platform, and 30 million adults now own a digital radio – including myself, of course.”

Mr Hancock noted that by the end of 2016, 90 per cent of new cars are expected to have DAB fitted as standard.

He also said that digital radio grants spectrum access to new dynamic stations that would not be able to broadcast otherwise, and cited the launch of diverse national stations such as Magic Chilled, Union Jack and Awesome – the UK’s first national Muslim radio station.

He stated that the 50 per cent digital listening threshold was important and needed to be met before the Government “considers the merits of setting out a timetable for digital switchover” and that the issue will need careful consideration.

Ofcom’s announcement of the results of the successful DCMS-funded small-scale DAB trials was welcomed by Mr Hancock. He made clear his intention to introduce legislation at the earliest practical opportunity to create a licensing and regulatory framework that would support small-scale DAB multiplexes.

Ford Ennals, chief executive, Digital Radio UK, said: “It’s great news that the Minister has reaffirmed his commitment to digital radio and will consider the merits of setting a timetable for digital switchover when we achieve the 50 per cent listening criteria. We very much look forward to working alongside industry and Government to reach that important landmark in the coming 12 months.”