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Consumer group slams Britain's digital radio switchover

Biased and unrealistic, Department told

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The Group was set up in 2003 to advise on consumer issues around the digital TV switchover. Following the Carter Report - the blueprint for the Digital Economy Act - it was asked to examine the digital radio switchover too. It found that the government's previous "expert document", whose recommendations were largely incorporated into Carter, was "industry led" - referring to the DRWG (Digital Radio Working Group) recommendations at the end of 2008.

Since then, "the consumer proposition has stagnated", the CEG notes.

The CEG group wants platform criteria to be more honest. The recommendation that switchover preparations start when "digital listening" reaches 50 per cent is not helpful, it says. "The take-up criterion should compare like-for-like listening platforms and as such measure DAB listening only."

It also shoots down the argument that if we don't move to DAB, then maintaining the UK's FM infrastructure will be just as expensive.

"Evidence given to the CEG shows that there are no economic or technical barriers to FM continuing as a broadcast platform. As the levels of investment required for continuing on FM or moving to a DAB platform are so similar, the difference financially between either course of action would be minimal."

The Group's report gives the new coalition government the opportunity to rescue a digital radio policy that's been largely authored by two lobbies - the DAB radio and commercial radio - but that's deeply unpopular with the public. ®

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