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'BBC Head Of Radio: DAB Radio Not "A Clear Enough Offer To Listeners"' by Grant Goddard

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Analysis of comments by the BBC Director of Audio & Music about the Corporation's DAB digital radio offering to UK listeners, written by Grant Goddard in October 2010 for Grant Goddard: Radio Blog.

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'BBC Head Of Radio: DAB Radio Not "A Clear Enough Offer To Listeners"' by Grant Goddard

  1. 1. BBC HEAD OF RADIO: DAB RADIO NOT "A CLEAR ENOUGH OFFER TO LISTENERS" by GRANT GODDARD www.grantgoddard.co.uk October 2010
  2. 2. The Tony Livesey Show, BBC Radio 5 Live, 28 October 2010 [excerpt] Stephen Nolan, interviewer (presenter, BBC Radio Ulster) [SN] Tim Davie, Director, BBC Audio & Music [TD] SN: There are big problems with the digital spectrum, aren’t there, because we cannot seem to hit any target that we are given for people switching to digital? TD: I don’t think we’ve had many targets … Let’s be honest, I don’t think we’ve had many targets in the past. Digital stations are doing well. Digital listening – we’ve got to be careful – includes online, which is doing pretty well, there’s more we can do. Then also you’ve got DAB. Now DAB, you’re right, it’s been marginally growing for a while … SN: Why? TD: I just don’t think it’s been a clear enough offer, in my language, to listeners. I mean, people love radio. They are very happy with their FM radio. Why on earth would you change? And I think the radio industry has to say: ‘the reason you will change is – here’s a load of content’. And there’s clues like 6 Music, or other …. you know, that people love. And here’s a load of stuff that people love, and here’s a better … this device does something better than the other one. SN: Or, Tim, it’s for the BBC to take a huge risk, and a controversial risk at that, and to withdraw mainstream programming from the FM spectrum and put it onto DAB. Imagine how the numbers would soar if it had [BBC Radio 1 breakfast DJ Chris] Moyles or … TD: [interrupts] Imagine my inbox! SN: Exactly, exactly. It’s a serious point. TD: Sure. SN: Imagine if you had Moyles or [BBC Radio 2 breakfast DJ Chris] Evans exclusively on DAB, or a massive programme. TD: Right! And … we could do that. The issue would be that, with current coverage levels and with the amount of devices – particularly in Northern Ireland – I would basically be saying that you can’t listen to it in your kitchen, and everyone pays the Licence Fee. So I think the strategy for digital, where we are taking things away, is not going to work. My approach would very much be that I do want you to feel a bit of pain for not having a digital radio, but that pain is not about not getting The Archers, or not getting Chris Moyles. It’s about: ‘you could get a bit more over here’, or ‘there’s a bit of [Radio] 4 Extra over here that you could really do with’, and that’s what television did with some of those channels. SN: Do you think, in terms of the internet, that radio is going to fundamentally change? TD: I think there will be a lot more on-demand, obviously, so people will expect to be able to call up a programme and … SN: I’m talking about the [UK] Radioplayer, obviously, which people are describing as the new YouView for radio. TD: Well, er, yeah. Basically, the Radioplayer is … we’ve got the whole industry together. Only about 3% of listening is online and I can’t understand that, as head of radio. I know I’m biased but, at the end of the day, when I’m shopping and doing my Tesco shop or wherever online, why aren’t I listening to the radio? [to SN] Well, you would relate to this because it means more listeners. I think that one of the things is that I think it’s a bit confusing. You’ve got the BBC on the iPlayer, which is pretty good, BBC Head Of Radio: DAB Radio Not "A Clear Enough Offer To Listeners" page 2 ©2010 Grant Goddard
  3. 3. BBC Head Of Radio: DAB Radio Not "A Clear Enough Offer To Listeners" page 3 ©2010 Grant Goddard and we’ve got other bits and … So we’ve put it all together and there will be a thing called the Radioplayer. Now, it gets a bit complex, but I think the YouView thing that you refer to is when you’ve got an internet connection to your television. Now, when you click your television on, I want one Radioplayer icon where you can go in and listen to all the radio. Now, the … SN: On the TV? TD: Yeah. On any screen – sorry to sound ‘new age’ – any screen anywhere, whether it’s a … whatever the size of it, you can go and get all your radio services. We don’t currently have that. [First published by Grant Goddard: Radio Blog as 'BBC Head Of Radio: DAB Not "A Clear Enough Offer To Listeners"', 30 October 2010.] Grant Goddard is a media analyst / radio specialist / radio consultant with thirty years of experience in the broadcasting industry, having held senior management and consultancy roles within the commercial media sector in the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. Details at http://www.grantgoddard.co.uk

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