‘Switching off analogue.’ Digital radio policymaking and the public

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  • Time: 10:30 - 16:00
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A seminar organised by MeCCSA’s Radio Studies network and Policy network, with the Media Industries Research Centre at the Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds.

The emergence of digital radio in the UK has been described, at different times, as hugely successful and as utterly disastrous. In comparison with other countries, digital radio is well developed in the UK; however, in marked contrast with digital television, more than a decade after its launch digital radio still accounts for a small percentage of overall listening, and its growth is slower than most had forecast. Government policy is that the majority of analogue radio stations, all BBC and larger commercial staions, should follow their TV counterparts and switch to digital-only operation in the near rather than distant future, suggesting 2015 as a target date – a date widely regarded as over ambitious.

Popular media response has been hostile to the prospect of digital switchover. Consumer groups have also urged caution, while noting the lack of public discussion of plans for digital radio’s future. At the same time many in the radio industry support the idea of switchover and have worked closely with government to develop policy in this direction.

This seminar will examine the development of digital radio policy and the extent to which the voices of different interests – the public, broadcasters and equipment manufacturers – have been heard. Plans for switching from analogue radio involve questions of accountability in policy development and market based approaches to media regulation.


Session 1: Policy developments: international & UK perspectives

Katharine Sarikakis Trends in media policy and its underlying ideology
Rob Watson Participation, digital literacy and community radio
Michael Starks Digital switchover in the UK: TV and radio compared

Session 2: The policymaking process: appropriate policy for digital radio

Jaqui Devereux Community radio and digital radio policy
Robert Clark Consumer representation in policymaking: an insider perspective
Justin Schlosberg Media diversity and participation in policymaking