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Mar 16, 2016
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.
BBC HEAD OF RADIO: DAB
RADIO NOT "A CLEAR ENOUGH
OFFER TO LISTENERS"
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
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.
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
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©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