Smith calls for DAB frequency shake-up

Former culture secretary Chris Smith, now Lord Smith of Finsbury, has called for more digital audio broadcasting (DAB) frequencies as well as a reconfiguration of existing services to enable a fully digital future for UK radio.

In a report commissioned by the Digital Radio Development Bureau (DRDB) on digital radio switchover, Smith said the transition to an all digital environment for radio was "an objective to be sincerely sought" and was a "desirable aim both for the industry and for consumers".

While Smith did not believe it was yet possible to establish a switchover date for radio "we should be working towards the point where we can, indeed, establish it."

He added: "Incomplete coverage of local radio services represents the greatest obstacle to the move to an all-digital environment."

Smith wants Ofcom to give urgent consideration to the reconfiguration of existing frequencies to make more efficient use of existing DAB spectrum. He also calls for a wider range of multiplexes with a view to resolving all configuration issues within a 12-month period.

DRDB stakeholders include the BBC, GCap Media, Emap, Digital One and the Chrysalis-led MXR consortium.

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