Radio stations to be allowed to continue broadcasting via FM and AM for 10 more years

Conrad Duncan
·2-min read
Carpenter at the workshop plays the radio: Getty
Carpenter at the workshop plays the radio: Getty

Radio stations will be allowed to continue broadcasting via analogue for another decade, the government has said, after several FM and AM commercial radio licences were set to expire from early 2022.

Under new government plans, Ofcom will be able to renew analogue licences for a further 10-year period so long as stations also broadcast on digital radio.

Nearly 60 per cent of all radio listening is now via digital devices, but analogue stations are still used by millions of listeners on FM and AM radio services every day, according to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

John Whittingdale, the minister for media and data, said the extension was agreed to ensure there is “no disruption” for listeners over the next decade.

A public consultation on extending analogue commercial radio broadcasting licences, which ran from December 2019 to February 2020, originally proposed either a five-year or eight-year extension.

Licences for a number of stations, including popular broadcasters such as Classic FM and TalkSport, were due to expire in the next few years.

“As we move into an increasingly digital world, we're making sure the licensing landscape for radio is fair and up to date and allows audiences to enjoy a wide range of high-quality stations,” Mr Whittingdale said.

“Today's step ensures there is no disruption for loyal listeners of treasured FM and AM radio services such as Classic FM, Absolute Radio and TalkSport over the next decade.

“We will soon be turning our attention to providing similar long-term certainty to support the future growth of digital radio.”

The government's consultation came in light of a shift to digital listening across the UK, with current trends suggesting analogue radio could account for only 10 per cent of listening by the end of this decade.

Additional reporting by PA

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