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Last Updated:  Friday, 7 March, 2003, 12:08 GMT
Call for digital radio review
Sean Hughes
Sean Hughes presents on BBC 6 Music
Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has announced a review of digital radio, looking at the past four years and lessons for the future.

The review will be carried out by the BBC and the new super-regulator Ofcom.

Ms Jowell said the review should "take stock, measure performance to date, and consider what more needs to be done in the future".

The minister said it was an "exciting time" for digital radio, with more than 75,000 digital sets sold in the recent Christmas period.

The first commercial digital radio service launched in 1999 but take up of digital radios was initially slow.

'Momentum'

However, the recent introduction of a 99 radio has helped double listeners in the last three months to about 150,000.

Tessa Jowell
I am confident that digital radio will prove a winner
Tessa Jowell
"It's important to keep the momentum going," said Ms Jowell, adding that manufacturers and retailers had to meet demand.

"More choice, lower prices, and the fast-growing programme range are giving digital radio, at last, the chance of really taking off," she added.

There are currently about 30 regional and local digital licences, offering 300 digital radio stations, with five digital-only radio channels from the BBC.

Of the BBC services, Ms Jowell said: "Some may still feel that they invade competitive space, but I believe that they are genuinely distinctive."

The minister said she would be asking the BBC and Ofcom to canvass the views of the holders of all multiplex or digital radio service licences.

"I am confident that digital radio will prove a winner," she said.


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