FM-to-digital radio switchover in UK by 2015?

Pure's new Sensia 'connected' radio launches in October, with a new organisation formed this month to manage the forthcoming FM-to-digital radio switchover process in the UK

The nationwide FM radio signal is to be switched across to digital in 2015 according to a new organisation tasked with managing the analogue-to-digital switchover.

Digital Radio UK is set to explain and manage the forthcoming switchover from analogue to digital radio to British radio listeners, with the full backing of the BBC, the commercial radio sector and multiplex and transmitter operator Arqiva.

The new radio body will incorporate and "build on the work of the Digital Radio Development Bureau (DRDB) and will incorporate the recently announced Digital Radio Delivery Group to become a new consumer-facing brand that will co-ordinate and manage the expansion of the digital radio platform throughout the UK."

Basically, a decision will be made to switch off the analogue radio signals across the UK around two years AFTER at least half of Britain's radio listening is proven to be via DAB, internet or other digital media.


While the numerous acronyms may well currently be confusing for the average radio listener and buyer, the Digital Radio Development Bureau has been the trade body for the digital radio industry pretty much since its inception. (You can read our lengthy interview with DRDB Chief Exec Tony Moretta from earlier this year right here).

Meanwhile, the Digital Radio Delivery Group (DRDG) was originally announced as part of the recent Digital Britain report by Lord Carter earlier this year.

Digital Radio UK is, in effect, a means of bringing all of these organisations and their combined experience and knowledge together and helping to make sense of digital and 'connected' radio for UK listeners.

From its press release: "Digital Radio UK will work with all parties with an interest in digital radio upgrade, including the car industry, manufacturers and retailers with the key objective of meeting the planned timetable which sets out specific criteria to be achieved by 2013 so that the industry can upgrade to digital delivery by the end of 2015."

However, while that switchover in 2015 may still seems some time off, most in the industry are privately of the opinion that a full switchover from FM to DAB by that date is highly unlikely.

Community and local stations on FM

FM is still going to exist, but in a very different form to how we know it today, Digital Radio UK informs TechRadar that: "The plan is to upgrade the services currently on FM to digital, and then use the newly freed up FM frequency for more local, community and special interest stations, rather than switch it off.

"Most digital radios will be FM and digital so listeners will be able to receive the new services using FM on their digital radio. Also the 2015 date is a target, as opposed to a definite date at this point."

So don't bin that reliable old FM radio in the garage just yet!