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Minister confirms digital radio review



Margot James, MP, Minister for Digital and Creative Industries at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has today (May 13th ) confirmed Government’s support for the radio sector and announced that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will collaborate with radio broadcasters and the supply chain on a review and programme of work to ensure a healthy and vibrant digital future for UK radio.
Speaking at the Radio Academy Radio Festival, the radio industry’s highest-profile event which brings together broadcasters from across the BBC and commercial radio, the Minister reinforced the importance of digital radio and the progress made towards digital migration with over 52% of radio listening now being on a digital platform.
The Minister commented that the expansion of digital radio has been good for radio listeners with an ever-increasing number of exciting new digital stations offering an increasing range of music genres, sports and the spoken word.
Margot James, MP, Minister for Digital and Creative Industries at the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport, said: “A consideration about the future of radio can no longer be seen as just a binary decision about a switch from an analogue to a digital broadcast platform.
A review must have a much broader focus to reflect the growing challenges arising from IP based audio content delivery and how this affects future decisions on radio distribution. But there is also an opportunity here. For broadcasters and other stakeholders to collectively develop a shared vision for a sustainable vibrant digital audio sector for the UK. And to come up with some tangible steps to achieve the vision.
So I can confirm that we will now commence a review of digital radio. We will move forward on a programme of work that will begin in a few weeks and conclude by the middle of next year.
But in order to be successful it will have to be a collaborative effort.I look forward to working closely with the BBC and the commercial sector and with manufacturers, the car industry and others in the radio supply chain over the coming months.”
The Minister emphasised the robust success of radio’s efforts to position itself for the digital age with the medium maintaining its ubiquitous position but highlighted that the radio industry has entered a new audio age with increasing listener interest in on demand content and a new set of global IP-based competitors.
Ms James said that the forthcoming review would take into account the growing importance of listening across all digital platforms to ensure that radio is well-placed to compete and thrive.
She confirmed that DCMS would be moving forward on a programme of work that will begin in a few weeks and conclude by the middle of next year.
In parallel the Minister hailed the importance of small-scale DAB in order to widen opportunities for small local commercial and community broadcasters and confirmed that the Order setting out the new licence structure would be laid in Parliament in June, subject to the Parliamentary timetable.
Ms James said that small-scale DAB could be a significant boost for local radio and would enable new and existing ultra-local commercial and community radio stations to have an affordable path to digital.

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