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New taskforce to discuss why more people aren't turning to digital

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Culture Secretary James Purnell has launched the Digital Radio Working Group to work out why more people don't want digital radio, and how to change their opinions.

The group will be comprised of representatives from Ofcom, the BBC and commercial radio stations, as well as the obligatory "consumer representatives", and will be tasked with working out how to make digital radio ubiquitous in British homes.

The benefits of having a rewind button when listening to Today are obvious ("he can't have said that, can he?"), but beyond being able to see the title of the track you're illegally recording the benefits of digital are largely in providing more channels.

With only 20 per cent of UK households being DAB-enabled (Digital Audio Broadcasting) then 80 per cent of the population are unable to enjoy the delights of Planet Rock's 12-track playlist or the joy of hearing BBC RNanGaidheal late into the night.

It's not hard to see why the government is so keen to see everyone shifting to digital - the frequencies used for analogue radio transmissions are just as enticing, and valuable, as those currently being cleared of that old-fashioned analogue TV technology.

According to Mr. Purnell: "Digital radio offers more choice to consumers and the British radio industry is leading the world in the transition to digital. There would be great advantages for both consumers and business to completing that transition." So government would seem to be a disinterested party, then.

Digital-only stations are struggling, and unless more people buy DAB radios they're not going to be able to increase their listeners and thus their revenue, so you can be sure that broadcasters will be keen participants in the new task force. ®

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