Removing target dates for digital radio switchover can only be a sensible move 

8 July 2010

What can really be said about the decision to abandon the 2015 date for digital radio switchover, other than, it’s rather sensible?

Even the most ardent supporter of DAB – and as someone who bought a set about nine years ago and pretty much abandoned FM at that point, that probably includes me – could have seen that it was hopelessly optimistic and was never likely to happen. The biggest problem is in the car where the majority are sold digital radio-less and integrated sets designed to stop thieves running off with your stereo, are extremely difficult to replace.

The lessons are there from history – FM radio was supposed to kill off medium and long wave broadcasting, yet both are still going and you can imagine the uproar if the BBC (for example) decided no more Radio 4 was going FM only. The home counties would be in uproar, whilst moustachioed men muttered furiously about how it’s just not cricket that they wouldn’t be able to listen to the cricket whilst on holiday in Provence.

Analogue radio will eventually die – there is no doubt about that – however it’s going to take a long time before it does. Finding new sets with long wave has been increasingly difficult for some time – do a search for “Long Wave” on Argos’s website and you’ll get a kids garden slide and some chrome hooks that attach over your door.

And if people want switchover, they’re going to have to address why people aren’t going digital. Cost is becoming less and less a factor – you can get a DAB radio for under £20 now. Some will claim it’s audio quality, but frankly the big difference I notice is the distinct lack of FM hiss! Ultimately there’s going to be two major factors – 1) reception and 2) lack of incentive to actually make that move.

And the latter is the real issue here. If you’re very with what you’ve got on analogue, why switch in the first place?

You Say

3 responses to this article

sue davis 8 July 2010 at 7:36 pm

I’m a Long Wave fan – and it’s not just for the cricket. I carry my tiny Roberts transistor around with me as I work.

– FM requires an awkward aerial and doesn’t give consistent signal for Radio 4.

– DAB literally EATS batteries. Aren’t we supposed to be saving energy?

– Plus, DAB radios are heavier and at least 3-4 times more expensive to replace when (as is inevitable with portable things)dropped.

When DAB is as cheap to buy and run as transistors, I’ll convert. Until then, I’m fighting to keep LW alive.

Andrew Bowden 9 July 2010 at 9:58 am

A lot of portable DAB sets – especially the older models – have battery problems, however some companies are working really hard in that area – Pure Digital especially.

They’ve just released a palm sized portable set – the Pure One Mi – that gives 18 hours of DAB playback, which is pretty good going. Their bigger Pure One apparently does nearly 40. (Both are based on using rechargeable battery packs rather than standard AA batteries, which will no doubt help)

The One Mi is coming in at around £34.99, and given you can buy a three band radio for about £15-£20 there’s no denying they’re more expensive but the prices have come down a long way from my seven year old Evoke II that lasts about two hours on battery power.

I don’t work for Pure by the way! It’s just I own two of their DAB radios and I’ve been very impressed with them, and they do seem to be pushing the rest of the market in the right direction.

sue davis 9 July 2010 at 4:01 pm

Yes, it’s a nice try – and, as you say, it’s pushing the market in the right direction. However it’s still more expensive, heavier and less energy efficient. I’m sure DAB is great for sit-down hi-fi music fans but it’s still not right for walk-about talk radio types.

Thanks for the tip, though!

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