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DAB lobby launches radio scrappage scheme

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This weekend you can trade in your trannies and recycle your radios in exchange for money off brand spanking new digital tuners.

Well, so the digital radio industry hopes, as it strives to persuade a sufficient percentage of the UK's radio-listening population to go digital. Its goal: to get into a stronger position to encourage the government to switch off the analogue signal.

The scheme, dubbed the Radio Amnesty, is backed by major retailers like John Lewis, Tesco, Comet and Argos, along with a host of independent shops.

Manufacturers supporting the scheme include Alba, Bush, MagicBox, Panasonic, Philips, Proline, Pure, Roberts and Sony.

The actual discount you receive will depend on which model of digital radio you choose and who you buy it from, but Digital Radio UK, the organisation promoting DAB to Brits, expects discounts to be around ten per cent.

Some suppliers may also offer higher discounts on their own-brand radios, a DR UK spokeswoman told Reg Hardware.

The scheme runs for just over a month, from Saturday, 22 May to Saturday, 26 June.

Old radios will be reconditioned where possible and donated to RadioFix, a charity working in southern Africa to co-ordinate various efforts to provide adults and kids with radios to help with their education. DR UK has suggested this before.

Philanthropic, maybe, but the Radio Amnesty is really about reducing Britain's reliance on FM. DR UK's goal is to get at least get half the radio-listening population tuning in to digital radio, and to ensure digital coverage matches that of FM. At that point, national, regional and larger local stations will be encouraged to move to digital only.

Even DR UK admits "the earliest this is likely to happen is 2015", and the more folk who junk their FM radios the better, in its book.

Last month the House of Lords Communications Committee recommended just such a scrappage scheme as Radio Amnesty when it recently deliberated on the future of radio in Britain.

But digital radio proponents face an uphill battle to kill FM: according to radio audience monitor Rajar, just 24 per cent of the UK population is listening in on digital radios.

Radios that can't be knocked back into shape will be recycled. ®

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