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Digital Broadcasting: Radio

Volume 496: debated on Thursday 16 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what the extent of coverage of digital radio in (a) Powys, (b) Wales and (c) each region will be after the analogue radio switch-off; (286371)

(2) when the analogue radio signal will be switched off in (a) Powys, (b) Wales and (c) each region.

[holding answer 13 July 2009]: Details of the extent of digital radio coverage and when the Digital Radio Upgrade will be implemented in (a) Powys, (b) Wales and (c) each other UK region following the Digital Radio Upgrade programme are not currently available.

In the coming months we will be working with broadcasters and transmission providers to consider how and when the coverage of DAB will be extended and improved. The intention is to give a clearer indication of future coverage in the spring 2010 review which was proposed in the Digital Britain White Paper.

However, we have been clear from the outset that coverage of DAB needs to be at least comparable to current FM coverage before the Upgrade can begin. We are also aware that in Wales specific regard needs to be made to those listeners that only have access to radio via MW.

No date has been set for the Digital Radio Upgrade programme. The top-level principle of the upgrade programme is that it should not result in reduced access to radio services. The Digital Britain White Paper set out our intention to deliver a Digital Radio Upgrade programme across the UK by the end of 2015, when we would expect all analogue services also carried on the national and local DAB multiplexes to cease broadcasting on analogue. The Digital Radio Upgrade will be implemented on a single date, which will be announced at least two years in advance.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what provision will be made for radio reception by residential properties where digital radio signals cannot be received after the discontinuance of analogue radio signals in (a) Powys, (b) Wales, (c) each region of England, (d) Scotland and (e) Northern Ireland. (287169)

The Digital Britain White Paper made clear our intention that the Digital Radio Upgrade programme should not result in listeners losing access to radio. We have also been clear that before the upgrade can begin DAB coverage must be comparable to the existing FM coverage, particularly for the BBC’s services. In the case of Wales, we are also examining closely the impact of ceasing radio broadcasts on MW, which many listeners in Wales rely upon.

Therefore we are not, at this time, planning specific provisions to address residential properties in (a) Powys; (b) Wales; (c) each region of England; (d) Scotland; and (e) Northern Ireland which are not able to receive digital radio signals once services migrate to digital. However, we will keep this under review.