FM Radio faces Government switch-off as Digital listening passes 50% milestone

Radio 1 Breakfast Show sheds hundreds of thousands of listeners since the start of the year

Amazon Echo helps push digital radio audience past FM

The figures, from the research body Rajar, also revealed that digital radio is more popular than analogue for the first time, with 50.9 per cent of radio listening taking place digitally in the first quarter of the year. Digital platforms now account for the majority of all radio listening for the first time.

The greatest amount of digital listening takes place on DAB radios - two-thirds of United Kingdom adults have access to one at home, and they are in 11m cars - which now accounts for 36.8% of all listening and 72% of digital listening.

The statistics come just days after BBC director of radio and music Bob Shennan said music streaming services could kill off radio. It could cut off drivers with analogue vehicle radios and disenfranchise older wireless listeners.

Speaking at the Tuning In commercial radio conference this week, Margot James, Minister of State for Digital and the Creative Industries, said, "The 50% share will be an important milestone for radio" and confirmed that Government will "work closely with all partners - the BBC, commercial radio, Arqiva, vehicle manufacturers and listeners - and subject to this will make some further announcements". But younger audiences have not inherited the habit of listening to "live" radio, even on digital.

Ford Ennals, CEO, Digital Radio UK, said: "This is a landmark moment for the radio industry and for listeners alike". Global Radio's LBC now reaches a record 2.2m listeners every week, up 382,000 in the past year - the highest number in its 45-year history.

The Radio 1 breakfast show has been defended by BBC bosses after figures showed it had shed hundreds of thousands of listeners since the start of the year.

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