Culture Minister Ed Vaizey will say today that Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) radio is ‘the future’, potentially forcing millions of people to pay for a supposed upgrade.
‘There’s no doubt that the future of radio is digital. More than 30million of us are tuning in every week, with digital listening hours increasing every year,’ he will say.
He will also announce that nearly three-quarters of cars now come with digital radios installed as standard.
However, the Minister’s comments are likely to backfire among many drivers.
More than a quarter of new vehicles still have analogue radios fitted, meaning motorists face having pay at least £50, and often hundreds of pounds, to get a DAB radio fitted.
Mr Vaizey’s comments are also likely to anger radio listeners, many of whom complain about getting a much poorer signal from DAB radio than with their traditional analogue sets.
Some argue that digital radio cuts out in the middle of broadcasts, and is prone to interference from household appliances including microwave ovens, laptops, mobile phones and TVs.
Power lines and the weather can knock out digital signals, while signal strength can be reduced in built-up areas, in basements and inside buildings with thick stone or reinforced concrete walls.
Others are concerned about the so-called ‘digital delay’, which creates a particular problem when it comes to Radio 4’s distinctive ‘pips’, used to help people set their watches to the second.
According to experts, audiences tuning in to DAB will hear tones around two seconds later than they are supposed to. And if they have the wrong sort of radio receiver, that lag can sometimes stretch to more than ten seconds.
Nonetheless, the Government is backing the controversial technology.
Mr Vaizey revealed in August that the FM signal could be switched off permanently in the next few years, as more and more people switch over to DAB of their own accord.
He declined to commit to a deadline, but said: ‘When we reach a certain target of listening on digital, and we are very close to that target at the moment, we will take a view on what the appropriate next steps should be.
‘We now have digital coverage of all BBC radio stations that is as good as FM. We will shortly reach that target in commercial [radio].’
He insisted, however, that the Government would be ‘led by the listener’.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3301224/Minister-signals-end-FM-radio-Ed-Vaizey-says-digital-broadcast-future-despite-one-four-new-cars-not-fitted-DAB-radios.html#ixzz3qQ81T0IA