Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
DAB RADIO DOWNGRADE: HOW
IS "90% OF FM COVERAGE" A
SENSIBLE NEW TARGET FOR
DAB TO REPLACE FM?
by
GRANT GODDARD
www.grantgo...
“Makin’ a good t’ing bad!”
Moving the goalposts. Governments are adept at doing just that to help them achieve their
targe...
We were told that one result of the Digital Radio Summit meeting on 31 March 2011 between
government, regulator and the ra...
DAB Radio Downgrade: How Is "90% Of FM Coverage" A Sensible New Target For DAB To Replace FM? page 4
©2011 Grant Goddard
p...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

'DAB Radio Downgrade: How Is "90% Of FM Coverage" A Sensible New Target For DAB To Replace FM?' by Grant Goddard

76 views

Published on

Analysis of UK media regulator Ofcom's new strategy to achieve DAB digital radio coverage that is 90% of existing FM coverage, written by Grant Goddard in May 2011 for Grant Goddard: Radio Blog.

Published in: Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

'DAB Radio Downgrade: How Is "90% Of FM Coverage" A Sensible New Target For DAB To Replace FM?' by Grant Goddard

  1. 1. DAB RADIO DOWNGRADE: HOW IS "90% OF FM COVERAGE" A SENSIBLE NEW TARGET FOR DAB TO REPLACE FM? by GRANT GODDARD www.grantgoddard.co.uk May 2011
  2. 2. “Makin’ a good t’ing bad!” Moving the goalposts. Governments are adept at doing just that to help them achieve their targets or to make figures look better than they really are. Digital radio switchover is no exception. Given the technical and financial impossibility of the task plotted twenty years ago to completely replace analogue radio broadcasting with DAB radio, it has became necessary in recent months for the civil servants and digital radio lobbyists to move the goalposts. In a blog in April 2011, I had outlined Ofcom’s latest ruse to deliberately plan to make DAB reception worse than existing FM reception for many radio listeners. Nevertheless, Ofcom will still declare this a victory for the technical superiority of the DAB platform. The latest proposal under consideration is to make coverage of local DAB transmitters equivalent to 90% of existing FM coverage. On the one hand, this represents a belated admission that DAB radio cannot realistically achieve the same robust coverage as FM. On the other, it is a massive kick in the teeth to radio listeners – an attempt to purposefully replace something good (FM) with something worse (DAB). Madness! A recent presentation by DAB lobbyist organisation Digital Radio UK invoked a new, vague “local digital coverage equivalent to 90%” criterion [see below]: “90%” of what? The government’s Digital Britain report in June 2009 had fixed the digital radio switchover criteria as:  “When 50% of listening is to digital; and  When national DAB coverage is comparable to FM coverage, and local DAB reaches 90% of the population and all major roads.” [emphasis added] There was never anything in Digital Britain about achieving “90% of existing FM coverage.” It was always “90% of the population.” The goalposts are being moved to make it easier for the government and DAB lobbyists to declare that DAB has achieved the criteria. Despite this outcome making the consumer experience of radio evidently worse. DAB Radio Downgrade: How Is "90% Of FM Coverage" A Sensible New Target For DAB To Replace FM? page 2 ©2011 Grant Goddard
  3. 3. We were told that one result of the Digital Radio Summit meeting on 31 March 2011 between government, regulator and the radio industry was: “It is understood that it will cost around £20-30m to extend the local DAB signal to 90% of the FM signal in the UK…” At a Westminster Media Forum conference on 5 April 2011, the topic of this newly created “90% of FM” criterion was raised by several speakers: Jimmy Buckland, director of strategy, UTV Media: “There's a DCMS [Department for Culture, Media & Sport] plan that's been referred to today that's currently on the table that would take local multiplexes to just 90% of what FM already delivers, with no commitment on major roads. If that plan’s agreed, it just about gets us to base camp.” […] Neil Midgley, assistant media editor, 'The Daily Telegraph': “Now the briefing that we were getting last week was somewhere below £30 million for a build out to about 90% of current FM coverage. “ […] Daniel Nathan, director, Brighton & Hove Radio: “Just leading on from that, in Jimmy’s slide we saw the figure being an aspiration of ‘90% of the population’ and I was quite disturbed to hear that now that they are kind of moving away from ‘90% of the population’ to ‘90% FM coverage.’ When was that decided and by whom?” […] Jimmy Buckland: “There were two different figures, there was originally a figure which was the criterion, at which point you would make a decision about switchover which was that the Government said that once we had ‘90% population coverage’ and ‘coverage of all major roads,’ you could make a decision and there were a couple of other criteria that go with that. The second figure which was ‘90% coverage of current FM’ for local DAB concerns what would be delivered by a proposal which is currently on the table. So to tie in with the previous DAB Radio Downgrade: How Is "90% Of FM Coverage" A Sensible New Target For DAB To Replace FM? page 3 ©2011 Grant Goddard
  4. 4. DAB Radio Downgrade: How Is "90% Of FM Coverage" A Sensible New Target For DAB To Replace FM? page 4 ©2011 Grant Goddard point, what that £30 million delivers is a little bit more coverage at the local level, aggregated to 90% on a UK wide basis, so in some local markets it could be comfortably less than 90%, in other markets it could be higher and it doesn’t get you to the universality that you need for switchover.” So, two questions remain unanswered:  Who came up with the idea of ‘90% of FM coverage’ to be sneaked in as an easier criterion?  Why are large parts of the radio industry (including RadioCentre and the BBC) not publicly campaigning against this ridiculous proposal intended to make reception of their radio stations on DAB WORSE for listeners than existing reception on FM? It is hard not to conclude that the parties involved in this latest wheeze seem happy to treat the UK’s 46,727,000 radio listeners with utter contempt. [First published by Grant Goddard: Radio Blog as 'DAB Radio Downgrade: How Is "90% Of FM Coverage" A Sensible Target For DAB To Replace FM', 8 May 2011.] 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

×