A Bath trial could transform the way people listen to the radio.
Bath has been chosen by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to take part in a six-week pilot looking at how people will cope when the analogue signal is switched off.
Digital radio now accounts for 31.5 per cent of all radio listening, with Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) already reaching 90 per cent of the population and all major roads.
The trial, called GO Digital, is being held ahead of a ministerial decision on when or if a switchover to digital radio should take place. This project follows on from the nation-wide switch-off of the analogue television signal.
Listeners would still be able to get their favourite FM stations as well as new digital-only stations on radios in their homes, car radios, televisions and smartphone apps.
Digital radio offers listeners new functions such as pause and playback facilities, listen again and scrolling text with details about shows.
The trial, being run by market research agency Ipsos MORI, will involved 235 households in Bath including older people, assisted living people, disabled people and those who are registered blind or partially sighted who perhaps rely more on a radio than other consumer groups.
For the past week digital radio sets have been distributed by Bath firm Moss of Bath, with the help of MP Don Foster.
Ed Vaizey, minister for culture, communications and creative industries, said: “We have been clear that any radio switchover must be consumer-led.
Only when the majority of listeners have chosen to adopt and use digital technologies could the case for radio switchover be made.
“However, we acknowledge that for the radio sector to develop services, functionality and devices, which will drive consumer demand, it needs clarity as to the future framework for the industry.”