back to article New taskforce to discuss why more people aren't turning to digital

Culture Secretary James Purnell has launched the Digital Radio Working Group to work out why more people don't want digital radio, and how to change their opinions. The group will be comprised of representatives from Ofcom, the BBC and commercial radio stations, as well as the obligatory "consumer representatives", and will be …

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  1. Tanuki
    Thumb Down

    People aren't turning to it - Because it's crap.

    Almost all the DAB stations broadcast with such horrible levels of bandwidth-restriction, compression and encoding-artefacts that listening to them is an ordeal.

    Hell, some of the streams are only in Mono!

    I knew that Retro was the new Cool, but your typical DAB station sounds like an old battered medium-wave trannie with a run-down battery.

  2. censored

    No New Benefits

    Unlike TV, most people who listen to the radio are loyal to one or two stations. They get up to Wogan and listen to The Archers. Or they stick with the music station that plays what they want.

    So ultimately, there's no benefit to more channels. People don't hop around and they like what they've got. So why should they buy digital?

    For the other people, who might be more techy or be avid radio listeners, the sound quality on DAB is crap. Only the big stations are passible. Chill, Gaydar and The Core all appear to be broadcast at 96kbps Mono MP2 (yes - mpTWO).

  3. Hywel Thomas

    What about satellite and cable ?

    Maybe people don't bother with DAB because Satellite and cable carry digital radio, as well as stations broadcasting over the internet (I've listening to Radio 6 in Real Player at the moment).

    I reckon that the biggest barrier to widespread adoption of DAB is the complete lack of DAB installed by default by car manufacturers (as well the cost and inconvenience of upgrading one's car radio). They can do Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, MP3 paying CD players and USB ports, but they can't do DAB. Twats !

  4. Pat M

    What about the quality?

    They might notice that the quality of digital radio is lower than decent FM analogue radio, as too many stations have been squeezed into the availible bandwidth.

    I personally think it is criminal that the government is going to sell off the analogue radio bands to the highest bidder- I asume this will render all analogue radios useless which is such a waste- personally I quite like having an old school valve radio in my front room which sounds nice....

    Also if they wern't so interested in selling off the frequencies they could be allocated for comunity/local/interesting use! I would love to be able to listen to a good radio station which wasn't just motivated by comercialism in my car/at work... These frequencies could be freeed up for public use- circumventiung the facist maner in which they are currently assigned (how many local radio stations are there with more than a week license which arn't just comercial?).

    My two pennith worth.

  5. Red Bren
    Flame

    Why so unpopular?

    Have a look at the price! My perfectly serviceable 10 year old clock radio picks up Radio 4 no problem. Why would I want to spend £90+ to replace it? And even if it breaks, I can buy a decent FM replacement for under £20.

    And why do they all use tiny, backlit LCD screens FFS!!! If I wake up in the middle of the night, how am I supposed to see the time? Get out of bed to view the display? I want a big red LED display that I can make out from across the bedroom with half closed, bleary eyes!

    </rant>

  6. Joff

    Invest in the manufacturers, not sell to the end users

    The problem is people don't know or really care why they need digital radio in their lives. Their cars don't have it so why should their alarm clock or kitchen radio have it?

    Instead of pushing it down consumer's throats with marketing or scare tactics, the government should invest in the manufacturers of the devices to get them to wind down the production of analogue in favour of cheaper digital devices.

    Once people start buying them it will soon become the norm to just tune into a DAB broadcast.

  7. John Colby

    Just wondering ...

    ... how many people actually use more than one or two stations? My listening is confined to three - the ones I have programmed into the car. At home it's mainly one - when the radio is on, which is fairly seldom.

    So why the play on multiple channels? Is it really going to attract more people? Is there really an advantage in shelling out more money for the same thing?

    And are there digital music centres? is there a DAB boom box? How many cars are DAB equipped from new? Why are the DAB radios around either plain 1950's style or so funky that they'd be out of place in 99% of the places they could be used?

    And why is the display so bloomin' small that the those who rely on radio, blind and partially sighted people, have difficulty using them?

    And in case you're wondering, no, I haven;t bought one yet.

    There must be a better way.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    I can tell them why...

    ...It's because digital radio sucks!

    As a comparison, on the bus to work with an FM radio, I can get the radio stations I want all the way to the office with minimal interference and broadly acceptable quality.

    With a digital radio on the same route, I'm lucky if I get a signal at all for more than a quarter of the journey, and for the parts of the journey where I do get anything other than silence, the received audio is so choppy and broken as to be useless.

    If "the powers" want us to use digital radio, they need to get their acts into gear and ensure that reception will give as good, or better, a listening experience than FM - something it falls very very short of at the moment.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Consumer choice?

    So government carping on about consumer choice ignores consumers when we dont make choice it wants, nice one!

  11. Cameron Colley

    What's a radio?

    Do you mean wireless routers and 3G devices? Surely they're all digital already, aren't they?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Nothing to do with DAB being shite, then.

    When the quality matches FM then people might start buying.

  13. Leigh Smith

    Taskforce?

    I can tell you why right now. DAB radios cost 10x the price of normal radios, radio listener numbers are dropping and most of the listeners left are happy with the quality and availability of channels on FM. I'd also imagine the combination of large capacity MP3 players, podcasts, radio on TV and radio across the internet are not helping.

    How can DAB channels survive? Stream your channels over the internet and stop relying on a 20th century band aid fix for 19th century technology perhaps?

    Job done. Where can I get my cheque?

  14. Alex Tomkins

    The old favourites are on analogue anyway

    Why would I want to switch to digital radio to listen to the exact same thing?

    I typically listen to 2-3 stations at most and they're all on analogue radio. I might get some extra stations with digital radio, but the benefits aren't as obvious (like a 24 hour news channel).

    There's also the issue of DAB and DAB+, which most regular users probably won't realise. So we've got the prospect of all existing DAB radios being obsolete to upgrade to the newer standard. Compare this to say Freeview and an HD Freeview coming along in a few years time, the difference between the two is obvious - the HD viewers will get a higher quality picture. With DAB+ people won't see much benefit apart from slightly higher quality, the main benefit will be the government who can reclaim old frequencies yet again.

    TV's can be upgraded to digital with a simple set top box, a radio needs to be replaced. Why would anyone want to remove a perfectly working radio?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Because £60 is a lot for a 'radio'.

    We're used to getting radio's for next to nothing. A little FM tuner can be had for £1.

    Paying £40 for a device which recieves radio only just seems a bit expensive. Sure it gets loads of stations in pretty good qulaity but I bet most people only tune into a couple of stations and they get them fine through FM.

    I've an FM radio in my car

    I've and FM radio on the stereo at home

    I've an FM radio built into my MP3 player

    How much would it cost to replace all of these to get DAB everywhere?

    Too much.

    Why are they so expensive when a freeview box can be had for £15 now?

  16. Barry Rueger

    20%? Who's complaining?

    "With only 20 per cent of UK households being DAB-enabled (Digital Audio Broadcasting)"

    American broadcasters would cream their jeans if they could attain half that level of adoption for IBOC aka "HD Radio," the hobbled North American answer to DAB. I'd suggest that this a pretty reasonable level that will grow steadily as people replace radios and stereo gear.

  17. SmokeyMcPotHead
    Stop

    Errrrr.....

    ...it couldn't be anything to do with the high price of the hardware and the fact that most folks are simply at technology overload. They don't understand it and therefore can't make use of it. My others halfs nan has a middle name of "I Don't Understand", placing her amongst the needy masses who simply can't cope with all this technology however great it may seem. She can just about manage changing TV channels and turning the volume up and down, but don't go there with Electronic Program Guides, so god help us with pausing live radio...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Because.....

    The sound quality is crap. Really crap.

    And it will take about eleventy years before car manufacturers fit them as standard which, based on my review panel of me, is where most people listen to the radio.

  19. PaulK
    Thumb Down

    They really don't have a clue, do they

    AM/FM radio = 50p

    DAB radio = £50

    Go figure...

  20. Rande Knight

    How many people are buying new radios at all?

    It may simply be that people aren't buying new radios and see no need for a new one while the old one still works.

    Also may be due to the ipod generation who aren't listening to broadcast radio as much anymore.

    Perhaps they need to do automated request radio - text a song title (& band if ambiguous) to a number and have it played. Might work as there doesn't seem to be any shortage of people willing to inflict their music sense on the random public!

  21. Rob

    Patently obvious

    There isn't going to be a mass switchover to DAB until the big BBC stations go digital only, which will probably be the *last* thing to happen, not the first. Until then why would you spend more money on a DAB radio that gets you a load of extra stations but you won't listen to any of them because A) they're crap B) they're filled with adverts and C) you only really listen to radio1 anyway. There isn't any good reasons to do it full stop.

  22. Martin Gregorie
    Thumb Down

    Whats wrong with digital radio

    ... is that at present there isn't a reasonably priced tuner to match my Quad stereo system.

    In any case, why should I bother with digital when I'm getting excellent FM signals off my local cable system? Before I'd consider making the change I have some non-negotiable requirements that must be met:

    - the audio quality must at least match CD (DAB doesn't)

    - I want to use the same set anywhere that digital is broadcast (this means DRM, not DAB)

    - power consumption, hence battery life, must be no worse than a decent all-band analogue set

    When something like a receiver based on the Texas Instruments chipset (all wave: LW, MW, SW and FM, all-format: AM, SSB, FM, DAB and DRM) that was supposed to be available last Christmas appears I might be interested. Before then, forget it! I am not about to buy a receiver that I can only use in the UK.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    becouse

    becouse there is fuck all on.

    More channels/stations has simply ment more shite, less content and more ads.

    The same is true for both radio and television, more "choices" has simply lead to more junk, as to choice, 200 channels with the same shite is no different to 4 channels with the same shite it's still all shite. Shite and adverts.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    DAB is a program quality desert

    While BBC7 is possibly the BBCs most important contribution to British culture, the rest of the DAB stations are uniformly terrible. Station after station of bad music, bad presenters and bad adverts.

    So, if there is no compelling reason for most people to buy a new digital radio when their existing radio works fine, why expect people to do different?

  25. John Dann

    DAB problems

    Main problem for people like me outside of the main metropolitan areas is that the signal's too weak. The first (small) DAB radio I tried at home could pick up literally nothing. A second more costly and mains-powered model works OK provided it's in a window on the right side of the house, but otherwise gives useless reception so pretty inconvenient in general. Do I live in the back of beyond? Not really - 15 miles from Cambridge.

    Another problem is the battery appetite if the radio is not mains powered. People just aren't used to needing a new set of chunky batteries every few hours to listen to a radio. If I ran Roberts etc I'd make a mains-powered DAB base unit that could sit in a window and rebroadcast at least one channel at a time eg via Bluetooth to a cheap & compact audio-only (ie no DAB tuner) repeater unit that would have a long battery life. That's the only way I can see to get around the weak signal in many parts of the country which presumably won't improve materially for years to come.

    There are other parts of the DAB experience that are either poor or unfamiliar. There's no instant-on for example - the radio takes several seconds, subjectively a long time, to scan the channels after switch-on or when changing channels. And the fact the very few cars - probably where people listen to the radio more than anywhere else - have DAB means that most people aren't familiar with how DAB channels work.

  26. Turbojerry

    Bad Reception

    The reception on DAB in many areas is non-existant, I have family in Norfolk and Yorkshire and neither can receive DAB at all (these are areas covered by FM and all the mobile phone operators), if the government, OFCOM etc are serious about DAB then perhaps they should ensure that it covers the whole country.

  27. Phil Endecott

    Quality, forward compatibility, power consumption...

    Just a few reasons for not buying a DAB radio include:

    - The quality being lower than FM at the bit-rates currently used. (For optimum audio quality, use a Freeview receiver.)

    - The possibility that all existing DAB radios will stop working if/when the encoding scheme is changed from MP2 to AAC. (I'm not aware of any being re-progammable.)

    - The fact that DAB radios use vastly more power than FM ones. (Just look at the numbers on the wind-up FM/DAB one - it's something like 40 mins per wind on FM and 3 mins on DAB.)

    Pause and rewind might be useful, but the feature is not currently present on the vast majority of DAB radios on the market.

    I have only found one DAB-only station that I might be interested in, BBC 7.

    So it's not hard to see why it's not appealing....

  28. Arnold Lieberman
    Thumb Down

    Could it be because...

    DAB is shit?

    It's a 10 year old technology that requires a lot of transmitter power to give decent coverage, so stations cost a fortune to run, compared to DVB-H etc. It also requires a lot of receiver power to decode, so no running one in the bathroom on a couple of AA batteries for months on end. Until recently, a retro-naff looking set cost over £100. And is it just me, or do they all look naff?

    MPEG 1 audio is shit?

    With the drive to cram more and more stations into the available bandwidth, the only thing this country is leading the world on is destroying sound quality. Many stations that currently broadcast in glorious stereo on FM are mono on DAB. If you dislike 128k MP3s (and who in their right mind doesn't), 64k MP2 isn't going to be a joy to listen to! AAC+ will sort out that problem, but then everyone will have to junk their current receivers.

    At least the marketing has been forced to backtrack onthe bullshit about digital "quality" sound, when that quality is more like submerged sandpaper being scraped over a blackboard.

    This government is shit?

    They seem to have an obsession with social engineering in every facet of people's lives via our wallets. I'm waiting for Darling/Gordo to come up with an Analogue Tax...

  29. Richard Crossley

    Just how many radios do you have?

    If the digital switch for radio is handled as badly as the digital switch for TV, we'll all have to buy new radios.

    Without including those provided by Sky or Freeview I have 5,

    Car Radio

    Lounge Radio

    Study Radio

    Kitchen Radio

    Clock Radio

    I'm sure some people have many more, for example MP3 players, mobile phones etc. No doubt the Government would like us all to replace our fully functional analogue radios with digital ones. Allowing us to give the Government another wedge of VAT.

    Can we have a picture of Parliament in flames?

  30. Brian
    Thumb Down

    DAB Audio Quality

    From what I've read in the audiophile magazines (I live in Dublin, but am following DAB news in the UK) the quality of some DAB broadcasts are suffering from the broadcaster using low bit-rates. Has anyone experienced this?

  31. James Pickett
    Thumb Down

    Bleeding obvious

    There's a simple explanation - good old analogue FM sounds far better.

    That the BBC apparently failed to understand about bandwidth simply underlines the sad fact that it's now run by bean counters, whose natural reaction to any technical requirement is to outsource it. As with the government, of course, they know so little that they then can't evaluate the quality of the response, so it just goes to the lowest bidder, such as Crapita...

  32. Stratman

    It's obvious really

    When DAB offers Joe Soap something he wants that's available only via DAB then he might consider it. Things like improved quality. Oh, hang on a minute, the BBC had to retract its claim that DAB provided 'CD quality' because it demonstrably doesn't. How about better programming, instead of yet more indistinguishable "Yo, get down" stations with the same playlists being spewed out by indentical motormouths. If it worked in cars or outside cities it might just help as well.

    It's an answer looking for a problem.

    Now where's the "It's not rocket science" icon?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Car Radios

    I only really listen to radio in my car and I am not about to buy a DAB car stereo to be able to listen to the stations that are digital only, because lets face it they are crap.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    How about a better signal?

    I wanted a DAB radio in my bedroom, however, I couldn't receive anything.

    Plus, many people are happy with the current amount of stations in their area like my grandmother. Also with DAB+ in the pipeline, people are just waiting until the analogue signal is turned off.

  35. Peter Clarke

    Playlist

    'enjoy the delights of Planet Rock's 12-track playlist' - you must be getting it confused with Smash Hits or Virgin. As their jingle goes 'If you don't like it, frown at the radio'.

    More take-up of DAB will require better reception coverage

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    DAB interference

    FM works.

    DAB picks up interference from my laptop.

    Just a single datapoint, but I'd rather stick with FM.

    Andrew

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Digital quality

    Perhaps many haven't wanted to downgrade the quality of their listening pleasure? DAB for the most part sucks when it comes to sound quality in the UK.

  38. Colin Wilson
    Stop

    Ignoring the content...

    Kids used to learn about basic electronics by being able to build their own simple tuners (i.e. cats' whiskers radios) - by forcing the change to a digital format the government will be closing off yet another simple introduction to the sciences we've fallen so far behind in teaching.

    FWIW I don't have a digital radio, and see no reason why I should have to have to pay excessive amounts to replace perfectly good equipment.

    I suspect the enforced change to digital TV will cause an enormous amount of carbon "waste" emissions - both in the early disposal of existing equipment and the manufacture of new equipment (set top boxes etc.which will no doubt be "updated" every few years requiring new purchases to be made).

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    It's cars and Freeview stupid!

    Given a huge proportion of people listen to radio in cars, first stop must be to make dab standard in cars and cheap to upgrade for the majority stuck with old bangers.

    Then in the home, who needs DAB? (except maybe in the bedroom) Loads of digital channels are on Freeview, Sky or Virgin without an additional receiver. Tell Planet Rock to stop whinging and get onto Freeview etc.

    Finally, pursuade Apple and other MP3 makers with bult in radios to go with DAB rather than FM.

    Easy. Make me Prime Minister - or at least head of Ofcom.

  40. Dazzer

    This is an easy one...

    Analogue radio set = about £5 at the bottom of the range.

    Digital radio set = £50.

    I don't believe Freeview really took off until you could get a set-top box for about £20 so maybe they should take a leaf out of that book.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "to work out why more people don't want digital radio"

    ...maybe more people would care if they could get a signal in their area.

    I believe that DAB coverage has a long way to go before it will be a worthy replacement to good ol' FM.

  42. Joe
    Alert

    Well a bloody great big clue....

    ...mIght be that people will buy a DAB radio when signal strength is enough they can get more than a handful of stations - here in Reading I get two.

  43. Luther Blissett

    The Persuaders

    A very moot question, as it is now clear that at least half of England's Bingo halls will close due to the smoking ban, and their customers will need something to take their minds off the vandals who made it happen.

    A very simple answer is to make it a crime punishable by a fine up to £2000 to not have a DAB radio AND and not having it playing at 70dB for at least 8 hours a day (all technically feasible).

    With not much ingenuity it should be possible to have DAB radios report their usage stats back to the broadcasters, and fines for non-use issued automatically.

    Of course that is not the idea. The idea is to have "experts" confirm that the analogue bands must be shut down to improve the service quality of the digital ones. The panel is necessary because well founded objections can be made that that is not an adequate solution, and it is these arguments that need to be concluded (i.e. trounced).

    The whole little exercise is a model lesson in social engineering through applied psychology. It is not unique. (As if the Culture Secretary would be the first minister allowed to such mind-bending technology on a population of 60+ million!).

  44. Robin Fairless
    Paris Hilton

    Wow I must be a geniooois

    The Government needs a working group to solve this thorny issue? It took me and a bottle of red wine a mere 2 seconds to work this out - Digital radios are too expensive. I don't want to pay 50 quid for a radio when I can get what i want off a 5 quid shitty radio from Tesco. If the prices drop to around 20quid a unit then i'll get one.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Never mind the quality, feel the width

    DAB has been widely criticised for poor sound quality, especially in this country where bitrates are too low - even on BBC Radio 3 it is barely adequate.

    Generally IMHO the governments actions in forcing Digital Broadcasting, both TV and now radio, down our throats is pretty despicable, forcing everyone to buy new hardware, to receive inferior pictures and sound and then selling off the public assets of the broadcast bands to the highest bidder. It's greed and the market gone mad.

    Sound Friend

  46. John Munyard

    Try this for starters :

    Since the Government are clearly too bloody stoopid to realise why people aren't bothering with DAB let me claim the "Captain Obvious" award for this thread.

    1) I already have a number of existing radios in my car and house.

    2) They work perfectly well thank you very much. And the quality is fine too.

    3) Given statements (a) and (b) why on earth would I consider shelling out loads of money for DAB replacements?

    Let's not even get into stupid points against DAB, like the shit coverage, the fact that I don't actually need either replay or pictures with my radio, or the fact that nearly all the new DAB stations I've heard about sound shit.

    Is that enough to hold a select committee hearing around?

  47. Chris Cartledge

    Chicken and Egg

    I will not buy a DAB radio until I can get DAB broadcasts! In the meantime people will listen on their FreeSat or FreeView box, if the broadcasters produce anything worth listening to.

  48. James
    Stop

    I think I know why!

    To start with I must say I have a digital radio, (it was a wedding present) and it’s no different,

    I don’t listen to commercial radio as it’s all just 12 songs and adverts for stuff I don’t want. The other added stations are obscure BBC radio channels like 1extra.

    The quality that I’m told is so much better is no difference as my analogy radios all get perfect signal.

    The tuning is just the same, you turn a knob and get a different station, analogy is not a complex thing to tune and RDS does what the digital display does anyway.

    So to sum up, Digital Ridio’s unique selling point is it costs more...

  49. Anthony
    Unhappy

    Pips are late

    The hourly time pips are always late on DAB :(

  50. Richard Porter
    Thumb Down

    It's all been said...

    Digital compression just knocks the stuffing out of music. DAB is for people without ears. Anyway a lot of digital channels are available on DVB-T (which is just as bad) so why bother with DAB?

  51. Stephen Hope

    so how is it better than FM when i cannot have DAB fitted in the car?

    So DAB is better than what?

    cannot comment on "quality" as it isnt even an option for me.

    Even if it works in a car - how do you retrofit onto a radio built into the traffic computer and security system?

    Seems ironic that it was big bad Gov who wanted built in radios to cut down on theft from cars - and now it means they have maybe 20 million fitted FM radios that will not be easy to swap out.

    And the vehicles they are in have a typical 5 to 10 year life.

    Genesis never would get done in 7 days if God had had an installed base.....

    Stephen

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I had it for 6 months over in the states...

    1) Too expensive.

    2) shitty selection

    3) Too much Howard Stern

    4) Shitty quality

    5) Basically boring.

    6) Too many commercials for a bleeding subscription service.

    I'm going to stick with the AM/FM because it's basically free...

  53. Leo Maxwell
    Coat

    Internet radio

    I have a couple of WIFI internet radios at home, the sound quality seems better than DAB, there is no interference, and they can even stream MP3 tracks from my media server.

    I agree that DAB car radios are rare, but the signal is far more "fussy" than FM.

    Maybe 3G internet radios are the future! <ducks>

  54. jc
    Alert

    So expensive?

    I can see you can get a Technika DAB-107 DAB Clock Radio from Tesco's with a nice big blue segmented display for £29.97

    http://direct.tesco.com/q/R.202-3878.aspx

    or MATSUI MATCR515D CR515D DAB Clock Radio for 25 quid at Dixons

    - the £60 minimum price was a problem a year ago

    -jc

  55. u235

    New DAB+ codec

    In addition to the poor bit-rates and expensive sets, there is also the rather big risk that a new codec will be rolled out in a couple of years and that £90 DAB radio will turn into a useless paper-weight/brick overnight. (I just spotted that someone else has pointed this out but I'll say it again).

    The government is always keen to suggest that a spectrum sell-off benefits the tax-payer when in fact it is the tax-payer (as a consumer) that always pays in the end.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    A relic from past

    Here in north DAB was tried and found to be a failure, long ago:

    http://www.yle.fi/fbc/press_abandondab.shtml

    And in comparison, YLE chose to use CD-quality stream, not horrendous 96kbps mpeg2. In that time they didn't even have real competitors, like broadband and MP3/AAC as they do now. Trying to do the same thing now is a sure failure, DAB is a relic from past and as such, dead, like ISDN.

    Special hardware alone will kill it, while you _could_ broadcast MP3/AAC stream and use any existing device for playing it. That's too simple for BBC, is it?

    I could record a couple of days worth any net radio to a stick and use it my car for free, why on earth would I buy a DAB-receiver in my car?

    If you are a kind of people to buy DAB, you already have broadband and having both is kind of moot, having two separate hardwares for just moving bits around isn't justified.

  57. David Urmston Bronze badge
    Pirate

    They could make us switch

    They could simply outlaw analogue broadcasting,

    or

    switch it off, just like analogue TV is being switched off.

    Then we'd have to listen even - if it is crap music produced by their crappy recording industry pals, or smug tw*ts talking about what might be happening.

    Alf

  58. Richard Steiner

    Radio? Who cares...

    I'm so busy listening to my own local music sources to care about broadcast sources, be they music, news, or other programming.

    Besides, I already own three zillion analog radios I don't use. :-)

  59. Nick Ryan Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    The difference...

    The difference in quality is also down to interference. With interference on an FM radio station you can still make out what is being said / what is being played and follow it. With digital you just lose the damn signal entirely.

    Of course, you get the same problem with the crap that is digital TV as well.

  60. Nano nano

    The government understands technology ...

    And 'digital' always means better.

    Heck, if you sit a Sony Bravia LCD telly next to a Sony WEGA CRT telly on the same RGB feed, the LCD picture is _miles_ better.

    NOT.

    And don't even _try_ to watch Olympic water sports on digital TV, the coding can't cope with all that shimmery stuff.

    Engineers strove for years to optimise picture quality, and now it's all being thrown away for the sake of more macroblocky channels for the masses.

    Same applies to DAB.

  61. leslie
    Thumb Down

    All of the above

    Has anyone made a point that is about DAB, that is a good point?

    Maybe their ''think tank'' should read these comments and they might see where they went wrong.

    Digital audio (cd) digital video (dvd,tv) and now digital radio, are all carrying an analog signal, after crushing it, no one who is a purist likes that.

    I dont mind it for run of the mill stuf,but now and again I want a bit of quality in my life, I cant wait for ''the vinyl revival''

    Dab radio sounds utter shite, mp3 sounds terrible, and now FM has gone 'tinny' as well as its shuffled round the country in a digital form.

    Even terrestrial analog tv is from a digitally crushed source.

    They stole my analog and I want it back!

    @teaching in schools, whisker radios, yes I built one too from the ladybird book of making a transistor radio, great fun it was, but too complicated for our 6th formers of today.....

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Price

    @jc - Maybe so but I just bought a standard AM/FM clock radio from Tesco for 3 quid.

    Have tried DAB here but didn't get anything. Also, the local station I listen to doesn't even transmit on DAB.

    I shall stick with my Freeview box outputting through my stereo if I must listen to the channels on the radio (rarely).

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I'm a bit confused...

    Being that I'm from the other side of the pond, if it's public radio:

    1. Why is a royalty being paid for that mp3/aac codec. Wouldn't it make sense to require an open-source codec for uniform usage?

    2. The government is increasing power usage for encoding/decoding beyond what current radios use. Seems like the wrong way to go about it. Of course, we can't get our own car manufacturers to increase their fuel efficiency and we pay quite a bit less for our petrol at the pump.

    3. We have digital t.v./radio broadcast in the states, but I can't pick those stations up in my apt. (and I'm using a booster). Glad I can ride this out to 2009 when digital t.v. cuts in.

  64. david mccormick

    I want to work in government

    All you do is sidle up to your friendly minister and mention how you are a bit short of work and would they mind awfully setting up a pointless taskforce/quango/comitee for you to sit on.

    Surely the first few months will be used explaining what DAB is to the fossils who make up the 'taskforce'.

    I only listen to radio at work and in the usual miserly fashion adopted by bosses worldwide, we only have a cheap analogue radio.This is good as we are in a valley and can only receive radio 1 or the local station and by common agreement we plump for radio 1. Unfortunately this may change. I work for merecedes and my boss has a new c-class company car which has a DAB radio. He has discovered Rock FM or some such name (Imagine K-DST from San Andreas) and we may soon be deluged with old folks rock. (Don't get me wrong, I love bands who know how to play their own instruments but they shouldn't be allowed to play songs when stoned as they forget when to stop. 'The End' by The Doors has to be the most ironically named song in history, 'Without End' maybe). Choices are only a good thing if you are the person who can make them.

    Perhaps a new petition should be added to .gov 'Ban DAB'

  65. Marco
    Unhappy

    DAB or Freeview no signal here :(

    no point in telling us how good both these systems are if we barely get the 4 TV channels here in Skelmorlie and a few hissing FM stations. while I drive my 6 mile journey to work my radio1 signal comes and goes a few times out -of- sync also because it is switching transmitters .The signal is so cr@p !! I resent paying a licence for such a service . All tuners and antennae are correctly calibrated and set adequately.

  66. Chris Green
    Thumb Down

    So where's the 'save the planet' sense in scrapping millions of radios?

    It just shows that our 'government' is as non-planet friendly as any business that's only out to get MONEY.

    Scrap millions of analogue radios and TV's just for a quick money grab on radio frequencies, so they can be resold on ebay.

    I don't know what use the spectrum will be sold for, but I bet advertising yet more unnecessary items, that have an ever shorter life and come in ever bigger packaging has something to do with it.

    GREEN, a government? Pull the other one. Gimme the MONEY, voters!

  67. Scott Silver badge
    Boffin

    There is an alternative already

    The only place I regularly listen to the radio is the car. As lots of people here have said, there are no DAB Car radios. Quality is not relevant in a car. I tend to concentrate on driving. Coverage is more important and that seems to be wanting...

    At other times, I listen to podcasts. There is excellent quality, enormous choice and I don't have to listen to radio stations that are either striving to keep politicians of all types happy or following the path laid out for them by Rupert Murdoch. I am sure there are pocasts out there that do these. I don't subscribe to them.

    If DAB catches up with podcasts, I might be interested but it has to compete on, cost (podcasts are free), variety, sound quality, diversity, freedom from political and big company interference and programme quality. That is a big list and I think we have a long wait.

    If my car radio stops working, I will just connect up my iPod and listen to that. I am not going to spend ANY money on a vastly inferior alternative.

  68. Stuart Cowan
    Thumb Down

    Analog works

    Digital radio sucks. Unreliable, requires so many points of failure to be overcome and with the compression levels employed turns listening pleasure into listening hell!!!

  69. Richard

    DAB?

    DAB will experience slow take up because if like me you have at the last count 4 or 5 radios, (kitchen, living room, two bedrooms, car) which are perfectly fine for listening to BBC4, BBC1, Radio 5 live, local radio then why would I go and spend a fortune on replacing these with something of questionable quality? By the way I cannot replace the car radio its built into the dashboard.

  70. Nick M
    Unhappy

    Quality & Price

    I've had a DAB at home for over a year. I can testify to the statements above about generally poor quality:

    BBC stations *in general* are OK, but are often in Mono...

    Independent stations (such as XFM) are only listenable about half the time, the other half suffers horrible digital breakup and everything sounding like it is being played through a Dalek.

    ... and I live in an area that the BBC says I am "very likely [to] have high quality coverage"

    In contrast my FM radio in my car the reception is flawless.

    My message to the select committee - "I don't care about having 300 channels, just improve the quality!"

  71. Slaine

    Typo Correction

    It's just a small slipup ElReg, it's "Kultuur" Secretary James Purnell. The nice man from the Daily Mail has advised me not to go into any further detail.

  72. Reuben Heller
    Thumb Down

    Poor sound quality & reception

    I bought a Pure Digital hi-fi separate for a hundred quid recently (B-grade, they don't make them anymore.) It is a pain to get decent reception. You have to stick the aerial wire to the wall in a sideways-on T shape - it looks very weird. The FM wire can just be slung anywhere and it works fine. Bear in mind I live in London so God knows what it is like out in the sticks.

    The main reason I got it was to listen to Radio 3, which is the only station broadcast at 192 kbps. Except the BBC have to share the bandwidth across all their stations. So if Five Live Sports Extra or Radio 4 LW is on, they downgrade other stations. Sometimes Radio 4 goes down to 64kbs mono!

    That said you do get useful info scrolling on the screen. But that seems to be on FM too, via RDS.

    I am so relieved that the unit has FM on it too.

    What a waste of time!

  73. phat shantz

    Tech for the sake of tech

    Unless "advances" in technology fix some universally acknowledged problem, nobody will care.

    HD Radio isn't a fix to anything but the government's problem that it needs more frequencies to sell and more bandwidth to control.

    So it's a government problem and the government expects the consumer to bail it out -- again.

    George Orwell never explained what was behind Big Brother's moustache. Is it a smile? Is it a frown? In this case, it's HD-Radio.

    Government needs to do what government does best: force the worst possible choice down the throats of the greatest number of people and then tell them they are better off. Then raise taxes.

    See. I could have been an MP. I suggest a position over at the Ministry of Truth.

    WAR IS PEACE

    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

  74. James Pickett
    Thumb Down

    Replacing radios

    A quick check reveals that we have 8 FM radios in our house, plus two in our cars. Not much motivation to replace them all with DAB radios that may not get reception, will sound worse if they do, and will have far shorter battery life.

    The only reason they have 20% of the market is that old-fashioned radios last almost forever, and people rarely shop for new ones. I doubt that DAB radios represent more than about 1% of the total number in use!

  75. Terence McCarthy

    DAB=

    Degenerate Audio Billhooks

  76. Paul
    Unhappy

    I like DAB - somewhat

    I agree with comments that:

    * there are too many stations fighting for too little bandwidth.

    * there's a price premium

    I have a Pure pocketdab 2000, whose only downside is that the max SD card it can take is 2GB, so although it also makes a good mp3 player it is limited. If it were DAB only, it'd be 60% useless.

    The reason why I like DAB somewhat is that I listen to ClassicFM a lot, and the sound quality is respectable; where I work computer inerference drowns out any FM, but DAB seems to cope better. I also like being able to record digitally off air - but, there are some MP3 players with built-in off-air recording?

    Why are there still no decent DAB + MP3 large hard drive players? I did find one with 8GB of flash and a card slot. Perhaps because DAB has not been a big success round the world so there's quite a small market,

  77. Steve B

    DAB Obsolete already?

    I read that the rest of the world was moving to a different (and superior) technology which would bring their hardware prices down, capturing the world market and forcing out everything else much as the useless IBMPC did.

    Apart from that, my car radio which is where I do all my listening does not even have cassette capabilities let alone CD, and yes it still works and does exactly the job I require.

    As I have mentioned in the past I do not recollect in any manifesto that my viewing or listening was to be screwed if I voted for a particular party. Still now they've broadcast my details I have no doubt someone else will be doing my future electronic voting for me.

  78. Matt

    Utter Bob

    DAB reception is patchy. DAB sound quality is rubbish. DAB is much more expensive.

    Also, there's graceful degradation with analog. I can watch telly with snow in the picture or listen to (talk) radio with interference. Digital telly/radio just turns into stuttering and squeaks when there's too much noise.

  79. W

    3 BBC stations (+ 2 AM talk stations)

    Dear Mr "DAB radio sales taskforce",

    If (and it's a big "if")...

    ... the shoddy DAB broadcast quality is a mere technicality that could be overcome and that DAB could broadcast everything at the wholly "good enough" FM standard...

    ...the signal becomes weak the sound wouldn't crumble into white noise and the audio were to remain vaguely listenable...

    ...manufacturers could install it into every car by default...

    ...the price of the hardware was at least half of what it is now...

    ...the design of the hardware could be vastly improved to develop beyond "retro", "woody", or "50s space-age" (smiles go to the Marshall Amp one though)...

    ...and the energy consumption of hardware could be reduced to match that of FM...

    ...*if* they could resolve those 6 *technical* issues, DAB is still left with *quality* issue.

    It has the megre USP of having only 3 niche BBC stations (+ 2 AM talk stations) on offer. That's it: 6music/1Xtra/BBC7 - stations with a combined listening share of less than 1% according to RAJAR figures.

    I'll generously add points for 5Live/TalkSport, as they're on AM and a very very few FM radios don't receive AM but we're still only around the 5% mark. Apart from that, BBC R1-R4 are on FM, so no points there. Remarkably the dire commercial chuff has perfectly adequate equivalents on FM and the are too stations yet people still listen, so i'll add another 5% to listener figures.

    But those 3(+2) stations are all as "free" side offerings on on TV (Freeview/Virgin/Sky). And the internet.

    And pausing and rewinding live radio iof very little use. Those are bloody minded enough to record DAB will use a DVB-T USB stick with their PC (and then pass out due to acronym-itis).

    For those that want real choice beyond FM, Wi-Fi internet radios are an ever more sensible option for wireless households and will render DAB in the home a nonsense. Unfortunately that doesn't help revenue generation by way of the sale of radio spectrum though, does it?

    Yet with all of the above being blindingly obvious, the government is still wondering why sales figures for radios are meagre when DAB only stations have only attracted a 10% or so market share thus far and a DAB radio is only of any use in a bedroom without digital TV or a kitchen.

    All of the above is blindingly obvious and there's still the need for a taskforce?

    Yours in disbelief,

    W - a member of the small "6music in the bedroom" demographic.

  80. W

    enquiries@culture.gov.uk

    Above letter sent to James Purnell at "enquiries@culture.gov.uk" with the following;

    PS: You'll also be wanting to read the comments to the recent news story carried on TheRegister.co.uk (at http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/23/dab_working_group/) and the Channel 4 News Forum (at http://community.channel4.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/503603557/m/6530046049) before going any further with the Digital Radio Working Group.

    PPS: Where, and to whom, do I send my consulatation fee invoice?

  81. Andrew Steer

    @ Nick Ryan

    The difference is also down to interference.

    With interference on an FM radio station you can figure out what is causing the interference and do something about it. With digital you just lose the damn signal entirely and are left clueless unless you have thousands of pounds of RF analysis kit.

  82. archie lukas
    Unhappy

    Nothing to do with the excessive costs then?

    My Sony FM portable, £12

    2 AA batteries, last most of a year £2

    Dab radio £68

    6 C batteries last 32 hours, £9

    Nothing to with inflated costs of the equipment then?

    It's just a bunch of diodes and transistors, the hardware isn't worth the premium cost.

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