My Department along with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) recently commissioned an independent review of the environmental impact of the Digital Radio Switchover programme. This research will look at current energy consumption of analogue, digital receivers and transmission networks; the projected energy consumption from a future increase in digital devices and potential developments in equipment and compatibility with other technologies.
We expect the first phase of this study to be completed by spring.
The Digital Britain White Paper stated the Government’s policy that, following the digital radio switchover, the MW spectrum will be re-allocated for non-radio purposes and the FM spectrum will be retained for radio, specifically for small commercial and community radio stations.
We have also made our position clear during the passage of the Digital Economy Bill.
My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Simon) met representatives of the commercial radio sector a number of times, including at two joint DCMS and RadioCentre local radio summits, which were specifically intended to engage with the smallest local radio broadcasters.
These dialogues have provided a number of opportunities to gain a clear insight into the potential impact of the digital radio switchover on radio businesses. In light of this, I believe that the proposals for a digital radio switchover, as set out in the Digital Britain White Paper, are supported by the vast majority of the radio sector.
My Department is in discussion with broadcasters from across the UK to consider the impact of digital radio switchover on local commercial radio stations. This will help inform what support, if any, is needed to aid the transition to digital, beyond those already set out in the draft Digital Economy Bill.
The Digital Britain White Paper stated our vision for a digital radio switchover by the end of 2015. This timetable is based on industry projections of take-up over the next six years and represents an achievable date by which the switchover criteria could be achieved and a sufficient notice period for listeners to convert their remaining radio devices to digital.