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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 December, 2004, 12:03 GMT
More digital radio choice planned
Pure Digital Evoke-1
It is predicted 13m digital radios will be sold in the UK by 2008
Media watchdog Ofcom has proposed plans to streamline commercial radio and boost its listener choice.

The proposals, the first in a two-phase Ofcom review, draw on discussions with the radio industry, audience research and financial analysis of the industry.

Central to the proposals are plans to extend digital coverage across the UK and relaxing analogue radio regulation.

Digital radio can be heard by 85% of the UK population. Ofcom head Stephen Carter said it was a "dynamic medium".

New proposals suggest adding three more blocks of spectrum in VHF Band III to complete coverage across the nation.

'Dynamic medium'

"Radio is a at an interesting point of development," said Mr Carter.

"These proposals seek responses to the prospect of more digital spectrum and a new approach to content regulation."

Among the proposals to relax regulation on the analogue commercial radio are plans for a centralised news hub distributing selected material across a pool of stations.

However, Ofcom also proposed that each station should maintain a journalistic presence to ensure a high quality local service.

Other proposals included allowing local radio studios a wider choice of location and removing restrictions on the use of automated programming such as commercials and jingles.

A number of other technical changes were also put forward for public consultation, with the closing date for comments set for 7 March 2005.

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