The root and branch review will focus on broadcasters, the supply chain and regulation and coincides with the launch of a new licence structure for small-scale digital audio broadcasting (DAB), now expected to be presented to parliament in June.
Digital radio continues to make inroads with the sector now accounting for 52% of all listeners, drawn to a growing roster of stations offering an eclectic mix of music, sport and chat.
In a speech to the Radio Academy’s Radio Festival James pledged to provide £3m in funding for non-commercial content via the Audio Content Fund, but added: “Increasingly audio consumption is through hybrid devices that also do a myriad of other useful things - such as smart speakers in home and dashboard infotainment systems.
“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.”
The review is expected to conclude by the middle of next year and comes as surveys indicate 90% of Brits still tune into radio each week.