FM Radio to be switched off by 2015?

In June 2009, it was announced that FM and AM in the UK would “Go Digital”. What exactly does this mean? We look at how these plans may affect you.


Digital Radio Upgrade?

Digital Britain LogoIn June 2009, the Government’s “Digital Britain” report was published. This reported, commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport outlined a number of proposed changes , including some that will have a huge impact on radio listening.

The headline of the Digital Britain report is that there is a proposed “Digital Radio Upgrade” set for the end of 2015.


What does this mean to me?

If the proposals of the Digital Britain report were to go ahead, this would mean that:

  • Existing national and local stations currently broadcasting on FM or Medium Wave (AM) will migrate over to digital (i.e. DAB)
  • The space freed up on the FM band will be used for what are being called “ultra-local” stations

In order for this to happen, the following two things need to happen by 2013:

  1. 50% of listening needs to be on digital radio
  2. National DAB coverage needs to be comparable to FM coverage, and local DAB needs to reach 90% of the population and all major roads

Not happy? Have Your Say

When the report was published, we started hearing from our regular readers that they’re not happy about the proposed turning off of FM services, forcing listeners to move over to DAB.

  • First off – this is a proposal created under a Labour Government. Should Labour not be in power after the next General Election, things might change.
  • Make your views clear to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Government department responsible for. Contact the DMCS
  • If you have a comment on these plans for FM radio, you can add a comment to our Blog Post, or in our UK Digital Switchover forum
  • See RadioSwitch for a list of other campaigns to save FM


Digital Radio?

Pure One DAB RadioThere are a number ways that you can listen to digital radio:

  • DAB – Digital Audio Broadcasting. DAB radios cost from around £30 and offer a number of stations not available on FM or AM
  • Online – Listen via a desktop / laptop computer over the Internet, or on a dedicated Internet Radio receiver.
  • Digital TV – Many radio stations are available on a digital TV – including Freeview, Sky Digital, BT Vision, Virgin Media and Freesat.
  • DRM – A service called Digital Radio Mondiale. Not a mainstream service yet, but it has potential. It uses AM frequencies to deliver high-quality stereo radio.


FM Radio Switchoff FAQ:

Car Radios: I read in the Sunday Mail that existing car radios will become obsolete when the Government turns off the analogue signal and changes over to digital in 5 years time, but this won’t affect radios at home? Why? (Rod F)

  • When the switchover happens, local and national services will move from FM to DAB. We assume what the article is referring to is that an FM car radio won’t be able to get local and national services after the switchoff – all it will be able to get is the “ultra-local” services. As these are low-powered, if you’re driving, you’ll soon be outside the range of any low-powered station you listen to, whereas at home, you’ll be able to keep listening to an ultra-local station.
  • Looking for an in-car DAB adapter? Consider the Pure Highway


Got a question or comment on the FM Switch-off? Please ask us!

Other Links

  • Radio Switch – Information on plans to switch off FM Radio


  • John Gordon

    I am thinking of buying a new music system to play cd’s tapes and the radio Most of these systems include analoguge radio and I believe FM is being switched off in 2015 Not sure what to do now as this technology is confusing this pensioner can you advise me please
    J Gordon

  • Kevin Wray

    Will I as a driver be expected to pay even more so I can listen to my car radio? My radio is designed for my dash,a Ford Focus double din.not a cheap replacement if one can be obtained.Or has the government got any DAB adaptors to supply ALL HARD HIT DRIVERS with.Motoring is expensive enough without these stupid changes.

  • Don Skinner

    I listen to fm radio on my phone are these going to become dab

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