The Guardian reported the statement from Ed vaizey that the switching over to DAB for all national and larger commercial stations would take place at a rate determined by the consumer. FM would remain for smaller local commercial and all community stations.
The article is as follows: Ed Vaizey, the culture minister, said today the government that will not switch off the FM signal as he outlined plans to encourage the takeup of digital radio.
The commitment to keep FM stations on air is likely to be welcomed by listeners concerned that their analogue radio sets would be obsolete following digital switchover, which is likely to take place in 2015.
Addressing an audience of radio executives in London, Vaizey said the FM frequency will be available for use even after digital switchover.
“We do not intend to switch off FM. FM will be available to local listeners as long as is necessary,” he said.
“There is a fear that when the majority of listeners listen to digital, FM will somehow become a ghetto. This will not be the case. Even today, digital radios allow a relatively seamless transition between digital and FM.”
Vaizey also confirmed that the new government will stick to the 2015 target for switchover, maintaining the position taken by the previous Labour administration, but emphasised it would only enforce the deadline if consumers have migrated to the new technology in five years time.
He said the 2015 “remains a target we aspire to”, but the vast majority of the country must be able to receive digital by that time in order for the plan to be implemented.
Vaizey added that the process would not begin until more than 50% of the country listens to radio on the digital platform, “or in other words when analogue listening is in the minority”, a proposal first set out by Labour in last year’s Digital Britain report.
He also outlined a digital radio action plan that he said will speed up the transition to digital and argued that consumers will be keen to embrace the platform if enough compelling content is created.
“If I were to suggest today that TV viewers should go back to five main TV channels, there would be outrage,” he said. “I hope in a few years’ time, when we approach switchover, radio listeners will see the benefits of multi-channel national radio in exactly the same way that television viewers have seen such benefits.”
He pointed out that 11mn digital radio sets have been sold and that 24% of radio listening is already on digital.
Vaizey also lavished praise on BBC 6 Music, which was saved from closure this week when the BBC Trust rejected management proposals to shut it down.
“The furore and subsequent saving of 6 Music shows that the BBC is already building a fantastic portfolio of digital radio content, which has already established a passionate following, myself included,” he said.
He also said that digital radio should be available in cars by 2013. Car manufacturers have been slow to introduce digital radios in new models because they make vehicles for different national markets and there is no agreed radio technology that covers then all.