Digital radio needs clarity

Posted on 4 Aug 2010 by The Manufacturer

The motor industry is calling for radio broadcasters to do more to increase consumer awareness in the lead up to the switch over to digital in 2015.

The call comes as figures released by JATO Dynamics, the world’s leading provider of automotive data and intelligence, demonstrate a rising trend of vehicles in the market with digital radios fitted as standard or as an optional extra. Although the figures indicate that the number of new cars registered with digital radios as standard has doubled year on year since 2007, total volumes still represent a small percentage of all car registrations.

“While these new figures show that the uptake of digital radio is gathering pace and motorists are increasingly opting for new cars fitted with the technology, it is clear that there is still a lot of work to do to ensure the 2013 listening criterion is met,” says Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive. “More needs to be done to increase public awareness through extensive information campaigns and this will rely on the support of broadcasters in addressing the public’s key concerns about digital radio.”

Automotive manufacturers anticipate the rate of digital radio uptake will accelerate as they approach the 2013 deadline for digital radios to be ‘standard fitment’ in new cars. However, motorists need reassurance that the geographical reach will be sufficient when the switchover comes into effect – government’s aspirational date for switchover is 2015. Broadcasters also need to clarify how the digital platform will support traffic information.

Earlier this year, minister for culture, communications and creative industries, Ed Vaizey MP, outlined details of government’s action plan to implement the switchover to digital radio, identifying the automotive sector as a key focus for government. While he announced that significant progress has been made in the area, he pledged to work with car manufacturers to ensure that all new cars are fitted with digital radios as standard by the end of 2013.