FM Radio could be switched off as digital listening passes 50%

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Analogue radios could be consigned to the dustbin of history after figures showed that the majority of all UK radio listening was via digital devices for the first time.

The radio industry passed a milestone, with digital listening reaching a new record share of 50.9 per cent, up from 47.2 per cent a year ago, according to Rajar.

The landmark will trigger a government review into whether the analogue FM radio signal should be switched off. Last year, Norway became the first country to end national radio broadcasts on FM.

The BBC said it would be “premature” to switch off the FM signal. It could cut off millions of analogue car radios and disenfranchise older wireless listeners.

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Margot James, digital minister, welcomed “an important milestone for radio”. She confirmed that the Government will “work closely with all partners – the BBC, commercial radio, [the transmitter business] Arqiva, car manufacturers and listeners” before committing to a timetable for analogue switch-off.

James Purnell, BBC director of radio and education, said: “We’re fully committed to digital... but, along with other broadcasters, we’ve already said that it would be premature to switch off FM.”

The new digital figure includes listening through DAB sets, cars, voice-controlled speakers and online. For the first time that audience share is greater than analogue platforms – FM and AM.

This story originally featured on sister title iNews.