The key factor behind the widespread adoption of digital radio as standard in UK cars has been the Government policy of planning for a future radio switchover which has prompted the expansion of National BBC DAB coverage to 97% and the expansion of local DAB coverage to 91% which is comparable with commercial radio FM coverage. A further factor for vehicle manufacturers has been the increase in digital listening with the success of BBC and commercial digital-only stations and the announcement of the launch of 15 digital stations on the D2 National network in Q1 2016.
Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, said, “Over 61% of new cars with digital radio demonstrates the welcome commitment of the car industry to providing drivers with the full range of radio available today.”
This comes just two years after a group of broadcasters, representing 80 stations on the analogue network, petitioned the Government to put off the digital radio switchover, due to go ahead this year. This was put back due to the slow up-take of DAB by consumers. However, rather than have a date for a changeover, the Government published an Action Plan which set targets that had to be met before a switchover began. This included when 50% of all listening was to digital stations, when the national DAB coverage was comparable to FM radio and when local DAB reached 90% of the population and was available on all major roads.
Latest figures show that 38% of all radio listening was on a digital channel in Q4, 2014 and that the digital switchover, where existing AM/FM stations are migrated to DAB and the analogue network is closed, would be likely to begin sometime between now and 2019, once the stated criteria had been met. At that point, the analogue radio in your motorhome won’t receive anything and if you are looking to buy a new motorhome, it makes sense to have a DAB radio installed in it.