Digital radio climbdown as minister hints FM switch-off may be delayed8th July 2010The Communications Minister today hinted the government may reconsider a controversial deadline for the switch-off of FM wave radio in favour of a digital signal.Ed Vaizey said that there was 'no compulsion' to stick to the 2015 target and claimed if listeners are still using FM in five years time, the signal will not be switched off.But he said the FM signal should be switched off when 'the weight of public opinion' dictates.Mr Vaizey added that FM would always be available for local radio stations to use.He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'We are setting up a structure which will bring not only listeners to the table, but manufacturers, the whole ecology that's needed to get digital radio moving and off the ground.'He insisted: 'We won't switch off FM and FM will always be available. FM will always be available for local radio.'The rethink comes after it was revealed millions of motorists will be forced to spend hundreds of pounds replacing or converting their car radios with new digital sets.A decision to press on with controversial plans to switch off FM and medium wave radio in favour of digital would leave much of the nation with no option but to pay out for new equipment both at home and in the car.The move would cost consumers hundreds of pounds as they are forced to update and change their analogue radios at home and in their cars, before they become obsolete.As many as 100million analogue radios would become largely redundant after 2015 and around 20million car radios left useless - leaving many without their favourite stations.Around 20 per cent of all radio listening happens in cars but only 1 per cent of all cars currently have the capability to receive digital stations.Motorists will either have to replace their car radios at a cost of some £300 or buy special ‘conversion’ kits that must be attached to the windscreen, often alongside Satnavs, which could also cost more than £100.DAB sets for the home cost from £20 for a basic radio to £200 for waterproof, rechargeable versions that can be used outside.The plans will hit motorists and pensioners hardest but most ordinary homes have two or three radios - and the expense of replacing them all will mount up for everyone.The outgoing Labour Government was not able to put the 2015 date into its Digital Economy Act, which was rushed through during its last days of power this April.Senior Tory Lord Fowler, chair of the communications committee, yesterday warned the public ‘were not prepared’ for it.He said: ‘These are people who do a lot of radio listening and if you’ve got four or five radios dotted around the house, then replacing them means the cost adds up.‘The public have got to be taken with the process on this otherwise there is going to be something of an explosion of indignation.’Digital platforms, including DAB radio, television and online accounted for 24 per cent of all radio listening in the first three months of this year, according to Rajar figures published in May.This is an increase of almost four per cent on the same period in 2009 but still a small proportion of the nation.Currently, DAB coverage reaches about 90 per cent of the population but is extremely patchy in hilly areas such as Snowdonia in Wales and the Peak District in England. FM coverage, meanwhile, runs at more than 99 per cent.Critics also say that the quality of the reception can vary wildly and is often poorer than FM.After 2015 there is likely to be a phase out period where FM, MW and digital offerings run alongside each other in order to ensure everyone has adjusted. This phase out process could happen region by region, following the television model.The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has said incorporating digital radios into new models by 2015 would ‘be a challenge, but achievable’ but that still leaves tens of millions of older cars requiring conversion.Earlier this year the communications committee published a report urging caution on radio switch-over.It said: ‘We recommend that the Government, in collaboration with the manufacturers, should provide guidance to the public on in-car digital listening, including advice on conversion kits available and likely to be available within the time frame of digital switch-over.’
09 luglio 2010
Vaizey: nessun obbligo, l'FM in UK non si spegnerà
Le anticipazioni del Financial Times sulla possibilità che il nuovo governo conservatore britannico confermasse la tabella di marcia fissata dai laburisti per lo switch off della radio analogica nel 2015, sono state in parte smentite. Oggi il ministro della cultura Ed Vaizey, esprimendosi a proposito dei piani di digitalizzazione della radio nel Regno Unito, ha detto che non c'è nessuna "forzatura" nel restare attaccati alla data del 2015 fissata in precedenza, aggiungendo che se tra cinque anni ci saranno ancora ascoltatori dell'FM, l'FM non smetterà di funzionare. In ogni caso, la radio locale avrà sempre diritto a utilizzarla. Al tempo stesso il ministro ha precisato che il governo farà comunque di tutto per far decollare il digitale, chiamando a un tavolo di discussione anche i costruttori di apparecchi radio, specie per l'automotive. Ecco l'articolo del Daily Mail appena passatomi da Oliva. I commenti sono già numerosi e fanno capire le perplessità di alcuni lettori.