Digital radio switchover risks backlash

AN information blackout on Britain’s switch to digital radio in 2015 could create a massive public outcry, according to the House of Lords Communications Committee.

Britain will move from FM to digital in five years time but according to the Communications Committee the general public and retailers have not been properly informed about its impact.

FM radios continue to be sold to consumers and will be installed in new cars until 2013. It costs between £60-100 for a digital converter. It is understood there are currently between 50-100 million analogue/FM radios in the UK that will become largely redundant after 2015.

“The Committee expressed concern that due to the lack of public information people are still buying analogue radios which will be out of date in a few years’ time,” it said.

The Committee wants the Government to provide a detailed plan for universal digital radio coverage, including how it is to be funded and develop a policy for the long-term use of FM.

Lord Fowler, chairman of the House of Lords Communications Committee, said: “Virtually all the witnesses who gave evidence to the Committee spoke of the need for greater clarity of policy in digital radio switchover. It is urgent that the government now settle policy and in addition step up their efforts to inform the public. There is a danger of a public backlash if this is not done.”

However, he does not want the digital radio policy overturned.

● The Select Committee on Communications was appointed “to consider communications”.

● Ofcom, the communications regulator, is responsible for the regulatory regime for switchover.