First it was on, then it was off – now, with today's publication of the Digital Britain report, it seems that there is a switch-off date for the majority of analogue radio services in the UK. And it's only six years away.
The report says that in order for radio to grow, it's necessary for there to be 'clarity and commitment to the DAB platform.' And to hasten this, it says that 'At the heart of our vision is the delivery of a Digital Radio Upgrade programme by the end of 2015.'
And what will happen in this Upgrade Programme? Well, it will be 'implemented on a single date, which will be announced at least two years in advance.
'On the determined date all services carried on the national and local DAB multiplexes will cease broadcasting on analogue. At the same time, a new tier of ultra-local radio, consisting of small local commercial stations and community stations, will occupy the vacated FM spectrum.
More after the break
'Radio services on MW will either upgrade to DAB or, if they are within the ultra-local tier, to FM. This will deliver an upgrade from FM to DAB and from MW to FM.'
The criteria for the switch-off date are that 50% of listening is to digital radio, national DAB coverage is comparable to FM coverage, and local radio reaches 90% of the population and all major roads.
The report expects these criteria to be met by the end of 2013.
As part of this the report welcomes manufacturers' commitment to making sub-£20 DAB receivers in the next two years, and urges them to look at 'FM rebroadcasters' - set-top DAB-to-FM adapter boxes.
In the in-car arena, the report commits the Government to working with car manufacturers to ensure all new cars have DAB radios by the end of 2013, encourage the development of converters such as the Pure Highway (illustrated), and build DAB into sat-nav devices.