An influential Lords committee has hit out at the British government's plans to switch the majority of U.K. radio stations from an analog signal to digital transmission within a five-year time frame.

Published this week, the House of Lords Communications Committee report, Digital switchover of television and radio in the United Kingdom, criticizes the government's handling of the digital switchover process, which first began in 2008.

"Currently there is public confusion and industry uncertainty," warned the report, which calls for an "urgent need for clarity" in regards to how the digital switchover proceeds.

The British government intends to make digital audio broadcasting (DAB) the digital standard for broadcast radio in the U.K. by the end of 2015. There will, however, not be a complete switch-off of analog radio services with some local and community radio stations continuing to broadcast on FM.

"The public are not yet convinced of the need for change and there are major issues of policy still to be settled," the committee report said, adding, "there is a high degree of listener satisfaction with the FM and AM services currently available."

The report also noted that "some commentators and members of the public" now regard DAB as an already-obsolete system with DAB+ [said to provide better reception quality] the preferred model.”

The Government’s departments for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) have joint responsibility for the digital switchover policy.

Despite criticizing the government's handling of the switchover, the committee report did concede that "the path to digital has already been taken" and "to go back on this policy now would risk turning confusion into an utter shambles."

It also stated that 2015 should be retained as a target date for the switchover to be complete.

That news was welcomed by Digital Radio U.K. -- the company tasked with establishing digital as the leading radio format in the United Kingdom.

Commenting on the report, Ford Ennals, chief executive, Digital Radio U.K., said in a statement that he was pleased that the committee had given its support to a "digital future" and target date of 2015, adding that he shares "the committee's view that radio and its listeners deserve a digital future."