'Digital tipping point for radio surpassed'

More than half the UK population now listens to radio via digital channels, according to the latest official radio listening figures, giving fresh impetus for Government plans to press ahead with the delayed switchover from analogue to digital signal. 

D Love

Digital Radio UK’s brand ambassador: D Love, who was used in a marketing campaign to encourage people to listen to digital radio earlier this year.

The latest RAJAR figures released today (1 August) show 52.5 per cent of UK adults now tune in to the radio via digital channels each week, generating a total of 378 million listening hours, and accounting for 36.8 per cent all radio listening.

Initial plans for a digital radio switchover were delayed in November last year due to poor audience pick-up. Ofcom said at the time the 50 per cent threshold, which the Government had set as a trigger for a switchover, was not likely to be reached by November 2014.

Subsequently, the organisation charged with overseeing the digital radio switchover, Digital Radio UK, launched a major marketing campaign to encourage the public to “spread the love” for digital radio in a bid to raise digital listening hours.

RAJAR’s figures, compiled by Ipsos MORI in the three months to June 30, show a total of 28 million people now listen to radio via digital platforms - which include TV sets, compatible radios, mobiles and online platforms - each week, accounting for 57.8 per cent of radio listeners.

DAB radios remain the most popular device for digital listeners, accounting for 18 per cent of this audience.

Radio listening hours via online devices numbered 62 million during the quarter, compared with the 55 million hours generated by digital TV channels.

The statistics also show total radio listening hours in the quarter (1.03 billion) were largely flat, both year on year and quarter on quarter, with an average of 90.8 per cent of the UK listening to a radio each week.

The figures come the day after the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published a paper outlining a legislative framework for “digital inclusion” in preparation for the digital switchover. 

Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, says: “We have reached a tipping point in the radio industry’s unstoppable momentum to digital. It’s clear that the future for radio in the UK is digital and we look forward to the certainty that the Government in-principle decision on a radio switchover will provide at the end of this year.”

Readers' comments (3)

  • I do not know anyone who listens to digital radio. All 4 radios we have are analogue.

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  • Yet more spin from the DAB lobby. Naturally the industry wants me to replace my hi-fi tuner, clock-radio, car radio, personal radio (for use when walking), and portables for the bathroom, kitchen, and garden. All for sets which (car apart) probably won't work in Europe; will use more energy; and will give me what I perceive as worse sound quality. Do I assume the Bank of England and Chancellor are also now on board as part of their campaign to hit savers? Are they stupid enough to think DAB are made in the UK?

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  • They have had to include radio listeners on other platforms than DAB RADIO SETS to come up with >50%. Just a marketing spin.

    Only 36.8% listened to digital radio channels. Of this, only 18% listened to DAB RADIO SETS.

    So only 6.624% listened to radio programmes on DAB RADIO SETS out of available radio programme hours.

    Now they want to use this justification to switch to DAB. You think the NON DAB RADIO SET listeners will keep quiet? Just 1 minute of no FM/AM will create enough uproar to shut down DAB switch over.

    Someone's trying to keep his job...good luck.

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