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Ellen Hammett 

Ed Vaizey: “The future for UK radio is digital”


Ed Vaizey, minister for culture, communications and the creative industries and leading radio broadcasters told parliamentarians yesterday that the future for radio in the UK is digital.

At a 'Go Digital' reception in the House of Commons, the minister confirmed that the Government Digital Radio Action Plan has now been completed, and that 'significant progress' has been made in the transition to digital radio in the UK.

34.3% of all radio listening hours are now on digital platforms, and 50% of the UK now listens to radio on a digital platform each week.

Vaizey said that Government will announce its decision on a future radio switchover at the end of the year and talked about the positive progress in terms of consumers, cars and coverage.

The reception, hosted by BBC Radio 6 DJ Lauren Laverne, brought together a number of radio presenters including Neil Fox, Denise Van Outen, Elaine Paige, Al Murray and Pete Waterman - as well as over 70 MPs.

Director of BBC Radio Helen Boaden said that the BBC was continuing to invest in digital content and the expansion of DAB digital radio coverage, and she welcomed the Government commitment to a decision on radio switchover this year, saying that this would provide 'certainty' for the industry.

"The BBC is committed to a digital future for radio and is investing in expanding the DAB coverage of our national stations and innovating online to provide a better service to listeners: feedback from our successful digital radio coverage of Glastonbury proves yet again how much our audiences love digital radio," Boaden said.

Parliamentarians also heard from John Cresswell, CEO of broadcasting and communications infrastructure company Arqiva, who said that DAB digital radio coverage of both national and local stations continues to expand and that Ofcom has completed the plan for expanding DAB coverage to FM equivalence.

Vaizey added: "These are exciting times for digital radio as recent years have seen more and more people choosing to listen through digital means. More than a third of listening to the radio is done through digital now and almost 40 per cent of new cars now have digital radios fitted. I look forward to seeing the industry continue to grow in the coming years."

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