Earlier this year, SMMT set up an ad hoc Digital Radio Working Group (DRWG) to discuss the implications for the automotive sector of broadcasters switching radio transmission from analogue to digital. The group was established at short notice and comprises representatives from vehicle manufacturers, audio suppliers and associated aftermarket personnel. Broadcasters had intimated there would be a cut off date when analogue radio was totally switched off, in favour of digital.
Although undoubtedly successful in domestic homes, digital radio for mobile vehicles has its own set of challenges and the group rapidly pooled its collective knowledge to form a response to a call for evidence made by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). DCMS set up its own working group (WG) in November last year and SMMT welcomed the opportunity for the automotive sector to be involved.
Yesterday, an interim report was issued by the DCMS WG which accurately summarises the points developed and raised by SMMT. Importantly, it does not recommend setting a date for switchover to digital radio now – rather it recommends a timetable for migration, dependent on progress against agreed criteria.
There is still work to be done, notably in conjunction with independent regulator Ofcom, with regard to field strengths required to give good reception in vehicles and other areas identified in the interim report – which can be viewed by clicking here. SMMT will continue to monitor the situation and offer guidance to the DCMS WG wherever possible. Once completed, a final report will be issued to the secretary of state in November or December.