Communications minister Lord Carter, author of the Digital Britain report, has told a conference in London today that the Government "won't make the switchover to DAB until its quality at least matches or exceeds that of FM".
Last month his report set a target for the Digital Radio Upgrade programme to be achieved by 2015. Lord Carter said he expected the criteria required for the switch-off of analogue radio to be reached by 2013.
But with the debate still raging over the quality of DAB radio in comparison with FM, and the relatively small number of cars fitted wth DAB radios – not to mention the number of portable FM radios still in use – many critics see this target as ambitious.
Speaking at today's Intellect Consumer Electronics Conference in London, Lord Carter said the move to DAB will give manufacturers and retailers "an £800m to £1bn sales opportunity".
Time to deal with consumer disruptionHe compared the move from FM to DAB radio to that of digital TV: "OnDigital wasn't good enough, so only when Freeview emerged did analogue TV switch-off start."
More after the break
Commenting on the issue of car radios, Lord Carter claimed car manufacturers "have responded better than we expected to the DAB plan". He says the the 2015 deadline "gives plenty of time to deal with consumer disruption issues".
He's also bullish about the Government's proposed broadband strategy, which would impose a 50p broadband levy: "We've come a bloody long way without a cent of public money."
A bill is being drafted for the next parliamentary session to implement the Digital Britain strategy. "Whoever is in power after the next election, 90 per cent of Digital Britain will happen," Lord Carter told the conference.