Consumer group tunes-in to digital radio switchover challenges

20 May 2010 #SMMT News

The challenges faced by motorists in switching to digital radio were presented today by SMMT to the Consumer Expert Group (CEG) – a government-tasked body looking at the impact of the digital radio switchover on consumers. Evidence presented at the session will help to raise awareness of the challenges which will impact vehicle owners and manufacturers when the switchover to digital radio is implemented.

At the evidence session, Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive explained, “A major challenge is preparing the 31 million vehicles already on UK roads that are not fitted with digital radios. Guidance needs to be given to the public on in-car digital listening, including advice on the availability of conversion kits and the cost of fitting them. It is important that the conversion process is smooth and affordable, to ensure that motorists are not put off. Ensuring technicians are fully qualified to perform conversions will be important too, as will making sure the costs and procedures involved are clearly outlined for vehicle owners.”

Earlier this year government passed a Bill that sets out plans to migrate analogue radio to digital services by 2015. In response, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) called for clarity on the digital transition. While industry welcomed the passing of the Bill, it urged broadcasters and government to work with the automotive sector to raise consumer awareness on the digital switchover and to help build demand.

CEG was created in 2003 to advise government on consumer issues relating to the digital switchover of television. Its remit was extended to include digital radio by the 2009 Digital Britain report. It will publish its findings later this year on the issues for consumers arising from the implementation of the digital radio upgrade and ways of communicating the impact of this transition to consumers.

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