Consumer benefits must be clear before UK digital radio switchover

The UK’s Consumer Expert Group has published its recommendations on digital radio switchover, saying consumer benefits need to be clear and demonstrable before any Government decision on switch off analog radio and switchover to digital. The recommendations follow the publication of the Government’s Digital Radio Action Plan in July.


The Consumer Expert Group (CEG) advises the Departments for Culture, Media and Sport and for Business, Innovation and Skills on the needs of consumers and has used its own expertise as well as taking evidence from a range of Government and industry stakeholders, to make its recommendations.

The recommendations are designed to make sure that consumers are at the heart of the Government’s roadmap to a digital radio switchover and that the needs of older people and people with disabilities are met to ensure that no consumers are left behind.

The CEG has called for:

  • The consumer benefits to be clear and demonstrable before a Government decision on switchover is made and that a full cost-benefits analysis from the user perspective is undertaken;
  • new and compelling digital radio content to drive the voluntary take-up of digital radio by consumers;
  • a digital switchover date to only be announced when no more than 30 per cent of listening remains analogue;
  • coverage and signal strength issues to be resolved;
  • no digital switchover date to be set until DAB radios have been standard in cars for a minimum of 2 years and reliable solutions to be offered for retro-fitting cars;
  • suitable equipment to be available for all listeners, including older and disabled people before any switchover goes ahead;
  • a clear and balanced digital radio switchover public information campaign to be implemented by a trusted body, independent of industry;a help scheme for vulnerable groups modelled on the scheme for television switchover.


Chair of the Consumer Expert Group Leen Petré says: “Any switchover to digital radio must only happen when listeners are ready and when the industry has delivered what consumers need. There must be quality content, easy to use technology and proper support for listeners, in particular for older people and people with disabilities. The Government must make sure that there’s a proper public information campaign that gives reliable, objective information from an independent source so that people can make well informed choices. In addition, to ensure that nobody is left behind, the Government must ensure that any switchover is accompanied by reliable support, usable equipment for older and disabled people and advice tailored to their needs, all delivered through a help scheme.”


An article in The Guardian, analysing the report, says advisory body has cast doubt on the prospects for digital radio switchover by 2015 and warned the industry not to “bully” or “scare” consumers into taking up the new technology.

The report sets out the pros and cons of switchover in these tables.



A full copy of the CEG’s report, which will undoubtedly be studied by government agenceis here in Australia as they consider spectrum reservations and regional roll out of DAB+,  is available on the link below.