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Dealers can profit from switch to digital radio

Dealers have an opportunity to profit from the Government’s plans to move the UK’s radio industry to DAB digital broadcasting by 2015.

An investigation by AM’s sister motoring publication, CAR magazine, has highlighted that more than 20 million cars will need to replace their FM radios with DAB or face being left in silence.

They face a cost of around £250 per replacement, or a minimum of £40 for a cheap clip-on device that connects to the existing stereo through an aux-in socket. That means a £1 billion+ bill for motorists to keep tuned in, said CAR’s associate editor Tim Pollard. Currently only 4.1% of car radio listening is done on DAB units.

CAR also warned that some cars with upmarket sat-nav systems face further problems, as the use of radio signals for traffic updates will affect old units using the FM frequency.

New cars will have DAB radios fitted as standard from 2013. Lee Harris, who chairs the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ digital radio taskforce, said: “The effect of switchover will be most felt on the legacy vehicles.

“If we assume a switchover of 2015 or a year or two either side, and a 15-year lifecycle of a typical car, there will be 20 million to 25m vehicles on the road whose radios will not work.”

Harris told CAR that he expects a rapid take-up of DAB over the next year, with 70-80% of new UK cars likely to offer digital radio as standard equipment from September 2011. 

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