Radio fans can listen to AM and FM for another decade

Radio fans can listen to AM and FM for another decade

July 3, 2020

Big radio switch-off is DELAYED again: AM and FM stations will be available on old devices for another decade as switchover from analog to digital is put off until 2032

  • Media regulator Ofcom will renew all commercial analogue licences
  • Nearly 60 per cent of all radio listening is now done through digital
  • Analogue still has a loyal listenership of millions who tune into FM and AM
  • Analogue had been due to begin turning off in 2015 but this was put on hold
  • There has been a slower than expected take-up of digital radio 

Radio fans will be able to carry on listening to FM and AM radio stations on older devices in cars and at home until 2032, ministers announced yesterday.

New legislation will mean another delay in scrapping the analogue signal.

Media regulator Ofcom will renew all commercial analogue licences – which had been due to expire in 2022 – for another decade. 

Nearly 60 per cent of all radio listening is now done through digital but analogue still has a loyal listenership of millions who tune into FM and AM.

Analogue had been due to begin turning off in 2015 but this was put on hold as a result of slower than expected take-up of digital radio.

Radio fans will be able to carry on listening to FM and AM radio stations on older devices in cars and at home until 2032, ministers announced yesterday

A switchover date was then due to be looked at once digital accounted for half of all listening – a target hit in 2018. 

Yesterday’s announcement came after the Government had to decide what to do when a number of national analogue licences, including those for Classic FM and TalkSport, expire in 2022.

Ministers will let Ofcom renew the analogue licences for a further ten-year period – if the stations also broadcast on digital radio. 

The changes only affect analogue commercial radio services as digital radio is subject to different arrangements. The BBC’s radio stations are not subject to the rules.

Media regulator Ofcom will renew all commercial analogue licences – which had been due to expire in 2022 – for another decade

Media Minister John Whittingdale said: ‘As we move into an increasingly digital world, we’re making sure the licensing landscape for radio is fair and up-to-date and allows audiences to enjoy a wide range of high-quality stations. 

‘Today’s step ensures there is no disruption for loyal listeners of treasured FM and AM radio services, such as Classic FM, Absolute Radio and TalkSport, over the next decade. 

We will soon be turning our attention to providing similar long-term certainty to support the future growth of digital radio.’

The Government said that the move ‘clarifies the long-term licensing arrangements for FM and AM radio services’ as the shift to digital radio continues.

Media Minister John Whittingdale said: ‘As we move into an increasingly digital world, we’re making sure the licensing landscape for radio is fair and up-to-date and allows audiences to enjoy a wide range of high-quality stations’

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