Plans to extend local digital radio coverage have moved a step closer as Government, the BBC and commercial operators signed a joint agreement, establishing the framework for up to £21 million of new investment in radio infrastructure to fund the build-out of local DAB to FM equivalences over the next 5 years. The agreement includes a commitment to consider further funding if necessary.
The agreement paves the way for the launch of at least five new local radio multiplexes, including in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, which will provide new local digital radio services to approximately 1.25million listeners. The agreement also confirms the Government's commitment to a decision on radio switchover in 2013.
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: "This is a positive and significant step forward for the future of digital radio in the UK. As more and more listeners make the switch to digital, it's vital that we keep on increasing the areas able to receive a digital signal. Government, the BBC and the commercial operators are working together to ensure this happens."
The Government said it will now ask Ofcom to form a joint planning group, which will be tasked with producing the technical and implementation plans for a radio switchover. Work will also continue on the Digital Radio Action Plan to ensure that the Government has all of the information necessary to make an informed decision on radio switchover in 2013.
The signing of the agreement comes at the same time as the publication of a methodology report on the Government's cost benefit analysis (CBA) of a radio switchover. It details the inputs and assumptions on which the cost benefit analysis is based, including expected consumer behaviour and future market growth. To ensure that the conclusions of the CBA are robust, the Government said it is now seeking views about the proposals set out in the report.
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