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Manufacturers claim digital radio switchover could take 'another 20 years'

A planned migration of analogue radio services to a digital standard could take much longer than originally forecast, 16 years longer, if the fears of a leading radio manufacturer are realised.

At present the government is projecting a switchover date of 2015 but Owen Watters, sales and marketing director of Roberts Radio, feels that this date simply isn’t feasible.

A key hindrance to further growth, Watters believes, is the need to convert an estimated 33m car radios from FM to DAB, currently there is no cheap and easy solution to perform the upgrade.

Watters said that the government shouldn’t try to “force the issue onto the consumer” and should instead focus on getting the industry digital ready “responsibly and honestly – regardless of how long it takes.”

The remarks come the day before the latest Rajar figures are released, which are expected to present a stall in the number of listeners adopting the digital standard over the last three months with no listeners migrating across, although this is thought to be normal with the Christmas spike yet to be felt in annualised stats.

Some 25% of all radio listening is currently done via digital formats via a mix of the web, DAB and digital TV with DAB itself only accounting for around 16% of digital listening.

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