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%, up from 47.2% a year ago, according to Rajar.
The BBC said it would be “premature” to switch off the FM signal. It could cut off drivers with analogue car radios and disenfranchise older wireless listeners. 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, (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, and growing its audiences, but, along with other broadcasters, we’ve already said that it would be premature to switch off FM.” Mr Purnell said that BBC podcast listening was up a third across all audiences since the same time last year, accounting now for 40,000 hours a week . But younger audiences have not inherited the habit of listening to “live” radio, even on digital.