Page last updated at 23:13 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 00:13 UK

Radio digital switchover proposed

Analogue radio dial
The working group said the future of long wave would need consideration

Plans to move all UK radio stations to digital radio and close medium wave frequencies have been put forward in a report by a government working group.

The Digital Radio Working Group said no date should be set yet for the switch, but it believes the transfer could be completed by the year 2020.

The interim report said listeners should be given at least two years' notice before the change begins.

Some 90% of UK homes have digital TV, but radio's future has been in doubt.

Barry Cox, the group's chairman, said the government would have to set out conditions to be met before the change.

BBC Media Correspondent Torin Douglas said some digital stations have closed and the biggest commercial radio group has questioned the viability of the platform, which broadcasts to digital radios through an aerial, rather than satellite TV or the internet.

Long wave future

Every home will be switched to digital television by the year 2012.

In the interim report, the Digital Radio Working Group said all national, regional and large local stations should switch to DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) in the medium term, while small local and community stations would continue to broadcast on FM.

Coverage levels across the UK would have to increase and so would the robustness of the DAB signal.

Furthermore, car manufacturers would have to be persuaded to install digital radios as standard.

The group's report said once the proposed change had taken place, medium wave frequencies could then be used for other purposes.

The working group, which represents all sides of the industry, also said further consideration would be needed over the future of long wave.

BBC Radio 4 listeners once marched on Broadcasting House to oppose changes to its Long Wave service.

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