Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Government admits: no assessment of impact on small FM commercial radio stations of Digital Economy Bill

House of Commons
21 January 2010
Written Answers to Questions

Digital Broadcasting: Radio

Mr. Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland): To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the likely effects of digital switchover under the provisions of the Digital Economy Bill on the ability of local commercial radio stations without a digital path to continue to broadcast on the analogue spectrum.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. SiƓn Simon): No specific assessment has been made of the impact of the radio provisions set out in the draft Digital Economy Bill on local commercial stations remaining on FM after the digital radio switchover. However, these provisions, and the proposals in the Digital Britain White Paper, were made following 18 months of consultation with the radio industry, which included representatives of small local commercial stations.

I am continuing this dialogue with the industry with the specific purpose of ensuring that local radio can continue to thrive on FM after the digital radio switchover.


Digital Broadcasting: Scotland

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what percentage of Scottish households are able to receive digital radio services; what plans his Department has to increase coverage for digital radio in Scotland before 2015; what the cost of implementing those plans will be; and who will pay for the implementation.

Mr. Simon: The Spectrum Planning Group, which formed part of the Digital Radio Working Group, reported in November 2008 that 77.8 per cent. of the population in Scotland had access to indoor Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB).

Coverage of digital radio broadcasting in the UK continues to increase and both the commercial and the BBC's national multiplexes now reach about 90 per cent. of the UK population. The Digital Radio Upgrade programme will require new investment in building and improving DAB coverage and reception. To this end we will be working with the BBC and commercial operators to ensure coverage of DAB is comparable to FM by the end of 2014.

The Digital Britain White Paper was clear that the investment need to increase coverage will need to come from both commercial operators and the BBC.

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what percentage of households in Scotland receive (a) digital commercial radio and (b) BBC digital radio services.

Mr. Simon: The Spectrum Planning Group, which formed part of the Digital Radio Working Group, reported in November 2008 that 76.2 per cent. of the population in Scotland had access to digital commercial radio services, while 77.8 per cent. of the population in Scotland has access to BBC digital radio services. Figures are based on indoor coverage.

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