Digital radio switchover delayed until 2019

Posted on December 8, 2011 by admin

The chairman of the Digital Consumer Expert Group has announced that digital radio switchover will not be completed until at least four years after the initial target.

The delay has been blamed on slow take-up of digital radio. The switchover relies on digital radio accounting for 50% of listening before a firm action plan is formed. The previous government had predicted that this threshold would have been met by 2013, however the revised date is now 2016. Currently digital radio accounts for 28.2% of all radio listening.


Roger Darlington, chairman of the government-appointed body, hinted at a certain reluctance from the motor industry claiming “privately the motor industry has had some doubts and feels a bit manoeuvred by the government”. However, he insisted that “publicly they are right behind switchover and by the end of 2013 all new cars will be fitted with digital radio as standard”. Darlington also added that Digital Radio UK, the body that oversees the switchover, needs to up its game to match the strong campaign for digital TV; “I don't think there's much doubt that the consumer proposition is not as strong as it could be and should be. They know they need to deliver new content that is very attractive. All this takes money – it is a chicken and egg argument”.

The plans are that when switchover takes place, digital radio will be rolled out in three phases - starting with the whole of England except Cumbria and the south west, in 2017; the south west of England and Wales in 2018; and finally, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Cumbria in 2019.

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