At a conference at the BBC in London on the 16th December, Ed Vaizey the minister for culture, communications and creative industries announced the following:-
No date can be set for the FM switch off until the following criteria has been met :
Digital listening share to reach 50% of all listening hours
DAB coverage needs to be equivalent to FM coverage
Further significant progress needs to be made on the conversion of cars to digital audio
Arqiva (the infrastructure provider) confirmed that they have more transmission stations to build before DAB coverage is equivalent to FM coverage and they will not complete this work until at least 2017.
The Government would then need to allow sufficient time for people to adapt their cars and change their listening habits so we think if Arqiva do complete the engineering works by 2017 (but this might not happen) and the Government do make a switch off announcement in 2017 – then the switch off date could possibly be 2020 or 2021.
The last labour government set 2015 as the date for FM switch off, but there has been a backlash against this, as a consortium of 100 radio stations with six million
listeners has been set up to oppose a switch over to DAB radio. There are still an estimated 100 million FM radios in use throughout the UK.
However none of this is definative – the only certainty is that FM switch off won’t be happening soon and if it does happen it is some years away.