Radio Industry welcomes publication of digital economy bill
The radio industry has today welcomed the publication of the Digital Economy Bill which reaffirms Digital Britain's commitment to a digital future for radio.
The Bill creates a framework to enable radio to transform itself for the next generation of listeners and secure its place in the multi-platform digital world by upgrading to digital delivery.
Among the initiatives included are flexibility in relation to local multiplex licences; granting of licence renewals to local and national analogue stations also broadcasting on digital, effectively ending Ofcom's current practice of only licensing stations until 2015; and greater operational freedom for local Commercial Radio stations.
Crucially, the Bill does not specify a date for digital radio upgrade, but instead allows the Secretary of State to set one or a number of dates for switchover, for which at least two years notice must be given, with the nominated date to be based on information supplied by the BBC and Ofcom. It is anticipated that this information will include the requirements set out in Digital Britain that, before switchover can happen, digital radio coverage must match FM coverage, and at least 50% of listening must be to digital.
Tim Davie, Director of Audio & Music, BBC, said:
"We welcome the Bill as it sets out a clear path to digital radio switchover and contains provisions that will help the radio industry face the future with confidence. We will continue to work with Commercial Radio to drive digital radio, and the framework set out in the Bill will help us focus our discussions and assess our progress."
Paul Eaton, Director of Radio at Arqiva said:
"The industry knows that digital radio coverage must be expanded and enhanced in order to bring the benefits of digital radio to the whole population. We anticipate that this will involve some re-planning of multiplexes and that will only be possible with the measures introduced today by the Digital Economy Bill."
Andrew Harrison, Chief Executive, Radio Centre, said:
"The Digital Economy Bill is an important start point for the Commercial Radio sector to begin to invest with certainty for the years ahead. We are particularly pleased that the Bill offers renewals of local and national licences for those committing to a digital future, and also includes more operational flexibility to enable local stations to focus their investment in quality local content."
About Digital Radio UK
Digital Radio UK is the company tasked with establishing digital as the leading radio format in the UK and ensuring its wide availability and continuing take up among the UK's 46 million radio listeners.
Funded and supported by Commercial Radio, the BBC and Arqiva, Digital Radio UK is the central industry communicator on digital radio, working closely with all parties with an interest in digital radio, from broadcasters and the car industry to manufacturers and retailers, to deliver the consumer and economic benefits of digital radio upgrade, which include more station choice, better sound quality and greater functionality for radio listeners.