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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 April 2007, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Radio stations face analogue axe
Analogue radio dial
Ofcom says any switch off would be a matter for the government
Traditional analogue radio stations could be facing extinction under proposals put forward by the communications regulator Ofcom.

It is suggesting a review of AM stations in 2009 and of FM services in 2012, or when digital use accounts for 50% of the total, whichever is sooner.

It also wants analogue licences, up for renewal from 2009, to be extended - but with a two-year notice of termination.

Ofcom says the analogue bandwidth taken up by radio could be put to better use.

Costs and benefits

The regulator is predicting 90% of all radio listening will be via digital platforms by 2017 and is launching a consultation on how best to use the analogue signal.

Current licences are set to expire between 2009 and 2027, depending on the date of issue.

An Ofcom spokesman said: "There is no date set for switching off analogue radio signals but with the increased use of digital we need flexibility in the spectrum.

"Any such changes are a matter for government and parliament but they may wish to consider how to allow Ofcom to achieve common end-dates for all FM and AM licences."

It added: "Any reviews would include a full assessment of the costs and benefits, taking into account the needs of consumers, including the most vulnerable members of society."

Ofcom believes the freed-up spectrum could be used for mobile television, more digital radio, more community radio services or other new technologies.

The consultation will end in June.

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