Report talks down DAB radio, with dubious accuracy. 

29 January 2008

Enders Analysis have done something that the radio industry wanted them to do. A couple of radio bigwigs have been talking about a crisis in DAB digital radio, a crisis that by the way doesn’t actually exist except in the minds of bean counters who are looking for profit all the time. Now, this analytical organisation has tried to claim that in fact DAB is about to become the next Betamax!

First of all, the analogy is way off the mark. DAB is not in competition with FM, or AM, or even DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) which is fairly new on the scene. If that were the case, then LW would probably have been closed off years ago. Secondly, to look at how long it takes for something to bed in to the public consciousness, you only need to look at VHF/FM. The band was opened up in the 1950s, but it didn’t become popular to listen on FM until the 1980s. Even when Radio 1 had to hand over 1053 and 1089 AM to commercial radio in the 1990s, there were still plenty of people to convert over to listening to Radio 1 on FM.

The report’s writer then goes onto suggest that DAB’s financial health is looking grim by saying:

“With three of the largest radio groups having reduced their commitment to the DAB platform in recent months, their stations having been replaced by a mix of ethnic, religious and non-commercial broadcasters, the future health of the DAB platform must be under question.”

I really think this guy needs to wake up. Just because GCrap GCap is closing stations because of their own lack of confidence in both finances and in broadcasting itself, doesn’t mean the platform will fail. People were saying similar things about Digital Terrestrial Television when On/ITV Digital collapsed in 2002. I remember it well, I was reporting on it here at Transdiffusion. Now, with Freeview as the base of the platform, the platform is thriving. Commercial Radio went into the platform without looking at how long it takes to establish one. They were looking for a quick 5 year or so turnaround to profits, rather than the 15-20 years it takes to properly establish a new radio platform. The daft thing is, this moronic writer of this report, whose name is Grant Goddard, also referenced the ITV Digital debacle!

“Ofcom faces a public outcry if the DAB platform were to fail, with owners of the 6.45 million DAB receivers sold to date demanding a refund of their purchases (remember ITV Digital?).”

Yes, I do. As I mentioned earlier, I reported on it, first hand, you can find the articles over in Bitstream, along with those of some of my colleagues who also reported on it at the time. And in all honesty, I do not see how over 6 million people would demand refunds for something that they HAVEN’T subscribed to, but just bought a piece of equipment for. Believe it or not, there are still ITV Digital digiboxes out there working, albeit not brilliantly, but they are working, just. But the most moronic statement of them all has to be the one that follows:

“Channel 4 is faced with the task of imminently launching a brand new DAB multiplex in the middle of a snowstorm around the future of the whole platform,”

A ‘snowstorm’ that has been created predominantly by two people. GCrap’s Ralph Bernard and Enders Analysis’s Grant Goddard. Stations have closed because their business plans were not realistic, in much the same way that a multitude of stations have closed on digital television, not because of the platform, but because their business plans were not realistic, not designed for the new digital broadcast environment that exists these days. And because they aren’t making money as quickly as they want to, they want to abandon a broadcast platform. And you, Grant Goddard, are actively encouraging them with this piece of anti-DAB propaganda!

The report reads like the kind of hit job that I would expect from Fox News covering a Democrat, rather than an analysis of DAB. It has so many inaccuracies, that I have detailed and more, and come to so many erronious conclusions, that I have to consign this report to the only file where it seems to fit in. The Waste Paper Bin!

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Ian Beaumont Contact More by me

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Liverpool, Thursday 28 September 2023