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Concerns over digital radio switch compel SMMT to act

A digital radio committee has been formed by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) to support and promote a smooth transition across the motor industry during the upgrade from analogue to digital radio.

The new group, which brings together a cross-section of industry representatives from the car, commercial vehicle and aftermarket sectors, will regularly meet to discuss issues relating to the digital radio debate which has gained momentum rapidly since government set plans in motion earlier this year for the upgrade.

In particular, the committee will seek to interact with government, broadcasters and other stakeholders to promote a collaborative approach for an effective delivery of recommendations set out in the Digital Britain Report.

The decision to set up the group follows important steps taken by industry to urge for clarity on the digital upgrade.

While it welcomed the passing of the Digital Economy Act earlier this year, it urged broadcasters and government to work with the automotive sector to raise consumer awareness and to help build demand.

“The creation of a Digital Radio Committee is an important step in helping to resolve the key issues and concerns vehicle manufacturers and motorists have about the upgrade before the 2015 deadline,” explains SMMT chief executive, Paul Everitt.

“A primary concern for the committee is the 31 million vehicles currently on UK roads which will be affected by the digital upgrade.

"Providing guidance to car owners on in-car digital listening, including advice on the availability of conversion kits and the cost of fitting them, will be high on the committee’s agenda, as will discussing measures to ensure technicians are fully qualified to perform conversions.”

Clarification will also be sought by the group on how the digital platform will support traffic information, as well as the feasibility of continuing transmission of traffic information on FM.

Other issues on the committee’s agenda will be digital-only broadcast content, the future of the FM spectrum, DAB as the UK standard and increasing public awareness of digital radio through early and extensive information campaigns.

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