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Minister calls for the end of analogue-only radios

Digital Minister Matt Hancock has called for all radios to be digital by default in anticipation for a future digital radio switchover.

The Minister, pictured above at a previous digital radio event, was talking via a video link to 250 industry executives at the Drive2Digital conference, with audience members including audio and radio manufacturers and retailers, vehicle manufacturers and broadcasters. Mr Hancock said the Government “strongly encourage, especially new devices, to be digital by default.”

He cited the example of the new car market, where nine out of ten new cars now have digital radio as standard, saying it would be “unambigoulsly a good move to see that replicated across different areas of radio production.”

His call comes as industry GfK data confirms the majority of domestic radios currently sold are still analogue-only.

The Minister emphasised that whereas a digital radio would last listeners into the future, an analogue product has a time limit because “there will be a switchover at some point.”

With digital listening now at 48.7% (RAJAR Q2 2017), Mr Hancock confirmed that when 50% is achieved Government will consider whether to set a timetable for switchover, and reiterated the need to proceed carefully saying, “we’ve got to bring people with us on switchover... so that everybody has the chance to move onto the new technology.”

The Minister’s call to accelerate the transition to digital devices was echoed by Julian David, CEO of techUK, the industry body representing technology manufacturers, and Katrina Mills, Audio and Connected Home Senior Buyer at John Lewis, who confirmed that John Lewis, the UK’s leading radio retailer, is planning to phase out the sale of analogue portable radios in stores and online.

The Drive to Digital conference, which is organised by Digital Radio UK, heard about the progress being made in transitioning UK radio to digital with speeches from leading audio and radio brands, including Roberts Radio, Ruark and Pure, as well as Amazon Alexa and Sonos ,and vehicle manufacturer, Audi.

At the event, Ford Ennals, CEO, Digital Radio UK, said:
“We welcome the comments of the Digital Minister and of techUK about the importance of selling digital-enabled radios at retail. In a world where radio listening is transitioning to digital and where all digital radios have FM capability it makes no sense for retailers to continue to sell analogue radios which have a time limit and can’t receive the majority of available stations."

Katrina Mills, Audio and Connected Home Senior Buyer, John Lewis, said:
“We know that our customers are tech-savvy and early adopters of all technological innovations. This being the case, it makes sense for us to ensure we are exclusively presenting them with radios which are digitally enabled and begin to phase out the sale of analogue-only portable radios.”