Analogue radio may face an early bath to free up spectrum for technologies such as DAB digital radio and mobile TV following new proposals from Ofcom.
The media watchdog's consultation document calls on the government to address "inefficient spectrum use" owing to the growth of digital radio.
Current trends suggest that 90 per cent of all radio listening will be via digital platforms by 2017.
Currently there are no plans to switch off analogue radio across the AM and FM spectrums.
However, Ofcom is consulting on ways to free up spectrum currently used by analogue radio services, and may halt the automatic renewal of analogue licences where the operator offers a digital alternative.
Ofcom also outlined plans to simplify the regulation of commercial analogue stations amid the "challenges" posed by technologies such as digital and internet radio.
The entire AM frequency is now set to be reviewed in 2009, with an FM review to follow as soon as digital radio accounts for 50 per cent of all listening, or by 2012 at the latest.
Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: "Radio remains important to many consumers, but the environment in which it operates is changing. It is essential that regulation reflects this."
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