frequently asked questions
What is digital radio?
Digital radio is radio broadcast in digital format as opposed to radio broadcast in analogue format. The process of adding audio information to a radio wave is known technically as modulation.
There are two analogue methods of modulation:
How can I listen to Digital Radio?
There are a number of different ways to listen to Digital Radio:
What is Digital Radio Switchover?
Digital offers opportunities for radio to innovate and grow. The increased capacity of digital allows for more content and functionality, connecting radio with listeners in new and exciting ways.
The government is committed to a digital future for radio, and believes a switchover process is the best method to deliver a transition to digital radio. In July 2010, the government launched the Digital Radio Action Plan to ensure that if, or when, the market is ready for a switchover it can be delivered in a way that will protect the needs of listeners, and result in a radio industry suitable for a digital age.
The government’s Digital Radio Action Plan sets out criteria that must be met before a digital radio switchover can be announced.
The criteria are:
Why is there a need to switch to Digital Radio?
FM has reached the limit of its capabilities and radio needs to move forward into a digital future in the same way as many other forms of media.
When will the Digital Radio Switchover happen?
There is no date set for the digital radio switchover yet, and the government has announced that once a switchover date is confirmed a further two years will pass before the actual switchover takes place.
What will happen to my favourite stations after the Switchover?
It is proposed that all national stations will move to broadcasting only on digital. It is expected that regional and large local commercial stations are expected to be digital-only, whilst smaller and community stations will remain on FM. All national, regional and local BBC stations will also move to broadcasting only on digital. AM services will either move to FM or become digital only.
What are the benefits of Digital Radio?
A greater choice of stations: Digital radio allows more information to be sent in the same spectrum. This enables broadcasters to fit more stations into the same space, which in turn creates more choice for the listener.
Additional information: DAB stations can display additional data such as the name of the track currently playing, or details of the radio station.
Pause & rewind facility: Some DAB radios are capable of pausing, rewinding and recording live radio
Are there any disadvantages?
Who is making the decisions about the Digital Radio Switchover?
The Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Maria Miller will ultimately make the decisions regarding the Digital Radio Switchover.
There are four advisory groups who are feeding into the decision making process.
The Consumer Expert Group (CEG) has been appointed by the DCMS Minister Ed Vaizey to advise him on a consumer view of switchover issues. The Chair is Roger Darlington and the Vice-Chair is Gretel Jones.
What is happening with DAB radios in vehicles?
In 2013 there has been a huge growth in the number of new vehicles which come with DAB radio as standard. In the first quarter of 2013 there were 215,000 cars sold with digital radio as standard which represents a 70% growth since the first quarter of 2012. This growth reflects a major shift in the policy of leading vehicle manufacturers who have committed to fitting digital radio as standard.
Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, says: “More than a third of all new cars are now rolling out of the factory with a digital radio fitted as standard. It is great to see the car industry embracing digital radio and provide drivers with the full range of stations now available. More and more manufacturers are switching to digital and by the end of the year the majority of new cars should be fitted with digital radios.”