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back to article Luvvies make last ditch appeal for radio mics

A new campaign backed by everyone from professional footballers to Shakespearian actors is trying to get Ofcom to rethink its Digital Dividend auction. Campaign group Save Our Sound represents 21 organisations opposing Ofcom's plan to shift radio users in the entertainment industry to smaller accommodation, at a different point …

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Silver badge

Is that because ...

> but when small bands complain about piracy, or sound technicians complain about radio mics, no-one listens.

... they don't have their mics turned on?

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Bronze badge

Transition period

".....no-one can buy that new kit until Ofcom decides where they are going to be allowed to operate."

This is the problem. There would be no problem if Ofcom officially provided a new home for this stuff and then gave a reasonable transition period for users to migrate - maybe three to five years. This would allow users to budget for new equipment whilst the old kit depreciates in their books and Ofcom would not need to compensate anyone.

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Greedy

You hit the nail on the head - they think they can get away with it because the public won't care. It is being very badly managed. If they had to pay for replacement kit they would be a lot less gung ho about it.

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Re: Transition period

That's a valid point for professionals. But there are thousands of amateur's out there. Think of an amateur dramatics company, for instance. I performed with one who had about 30 wireless packs - probably a couple of hundred each. They are a charity. They had to raise the money to pay for them and they sure as hell aren't "depreciating them on their books" over 3-5 years. If they have to replace them, they need to go cap in hand to a potential sponsor.

And there aren't too many individuals or companies willing to fork out money to sponsor the arts in the middle of a recession.

Same goes for bands who might have clubbed together to buy the kit. My last band didn't go wireless, but we all clubbed in and bought £1500 of PA equipment seven years ago. It's still going strong and I wouldn't anticipate having to replace it for another ten years, at least. Had we gone wireless, under these rules, we'd have to replace it very soon and we'd all have to fork out again. We'd get feck all for our current kit, even though it's perfectly decent.

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Cost money?

"If Ofcom is going to reserve frequencies for wireless entertainment, then it will cost money, and we're going to have to decide if it's worth it."

Not selling off national assets does not "cost us money". When we sell an asset we receive cash, true, but we lose the value inherent in that asset. Since the asset is no longer owned by us, we are also going to start paying rent on that asset from the purchaser.

The total national "cost" of reserving frequencies, then, is the sale price for the spectrum, minus the value currently extracted from the spectrum, minus the amount we'll end up paying in "rent" to the spectrum buyer.

If the spectrum buyer manages to turn a profit, this "cost" is always going to be negative. It costs *us* the value currently extracted plus the buyer's profit on the asset.

If the spectrum buyer is owned by investors in this country, this "cost" is always going to be negative - even if the buyer's profit is negative the shortfall is paid by people in this country.

The only outcome in which we as a nation do not lose out when selling national assets is if the buyer overpays (or otherwise fails) and is a foreign-owned company. In other words, we can win only if someone else loses, and the outcome is out of our hands. This is known as a "gamble".

Generally speaking, it costs money to sell national assets, for the same reason it costs money to remortgage your house. One way or another you are going to pay to extract short-term capital from an asset. You are not going to make money on the deal. The money is made by those with the capital that you need.

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Replacement TVs

We don't get compensated for our old TVs when they turn off the analogue signal....

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@JohnG

Spot on.

A lot of amateur musical thatre groups, choral societies, bands, etc. spend a lot of money on radio equipment. Ours must have set us back a good 5 grand. This money is hard to find and most small/amateur groups simply don't have the funding to replace kit which, as indicated in the article, won't be worth anywhere near as much as it was, or anything like the replacement kit will cost.

Giving us 5 years to steadily upgrade our kit to the new stuff will help a little, but I can see a considerable number of groups and societies going under thanks to this.

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Boffin

Ofcom plan?

Ofcom had thousands of complaints about 'Jedward' getting through on the X-Factor last week as I understand it. (I was out having a Life, I should point out here, so I'm just going on what I've read).

Ofcom have announced there is nothing to investigate.

However, if they bugger about with Radio Mic's (a plan I am UTTERLY against), then 'Jedward' can sing, but no one has to listen to him/her/them/it.

Perhaps this is a plan with some credit?

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Pirate

Call me stupid but

What can Ofcom actually do if you carry on using your old kit?

Just becasue your "Shouldn't" be using it, dosn't mean it wont still work....

ok, I get that there might be interference with the "New" owners, but if you have the strongest signal (locally) then shurley you'll drow them out...

AC in case I am being REALLY stupid here.

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Pint

Back in the days .....

Back in the days, a friend of my dad's played in a band and mucked about with electronics. He built a small, battery-powered radio transmitter using the then-new VHF-capable transistors which allowed him to wander around the stage wirelessly with his guitar. The signal was then picked up using a modified radio set, its earphone jack plugged into his guitar amplifier.

Having adjusted the receiver to a quiet frequency and then set the transmitter to match it, he was ready to play!

The first gig at which he got to use his new toy was in a hall opposite the Derby Royal Infirmary; when it soon became apparent that the "quiet" frequency he had chosen was in fact used by the emergency services ..... Every message from every ambulance going up or down London Road was broadcast to the audience!

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@Phil Endecott

But a set-top box costs £20, so you *don't* need to replace your TV. If everyone really did need to replace their TVs, I expect there *would* be a massive protest about it.

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Happy

Some good points

@Eddie Edwards

Great valid point.

I'm sorry to say that UK & Irish goverments, Ofcom and the even worse Comreg don't understand the concept of National Assets.

Also even if relocated there is no need for Digital.

There are huge savings on Video going digital as MPEG4 is so much more efficient. But for real time audio Analogue is superior.

Even FM Broadcast doesn't need closed ever and replaced by DAB. DRM might be a good idea eventually on LW, MW, SW/HF.

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Megaphone

Rental returns

Many moons ago I used to work in the stage equipment rental biz in the UK so I have a lot of sympathy for the SOS cause.

Having said that, the standard rate of return was 10% per week so if a piece of kit cost UKP100 it was rented out for a tenner per week, six quid for three days and three quid a day. Discounts were offered for longer term rentals such as a month or more and you have to take into account servicing costs and back up kit, etc, but by and large anything bought in 1992 would pretty much have been paid for and in profit by, er, 1993.

Megaphone icon...yours for a couple of notes..

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Unhappy

@ Mahatma Coat 13:37

Christ, I'm in the wrong business... by my calculation, the weekly return for forklift hire is 0.6%...

Sad face

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It's not the big companies, it's *me* that I worry about

@mahatma coat and @JohnG

It's fine if you're a big company who rents out equipment and are willing to have a reduction in profits for 3-5 years to replace all your existing kit with new stuff that you make money from ...

... me, I'm a singer-guitarist who performs with friends and makes no money from this. I own two wireless guitar receiver systems (one with a spare transmitter), and two wireless microphone systems so that I can perform with a friend and we can play and sing wireless ... even second hand off ebay this kit has cost me a fair amount of money, and now I find out that it all has to be scrapped (very environmentally friendly, not) and I'll have to buy brand new equipment (so no ebay 2nd user discount) if I want to continue on.

And as @Eddie Edwards pointed out, selling off the spectrum to someone else is a false economy for just about all of us, as the money I'll have to spend to use either the new spectrum, or to get space on the sold off old spectrum is far more than any benefit I'll get from the selling off of the spectrum.

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@ Chris O'Shea

Chris, I did start off by saying by saying I have sympathy with the cause and I also know full well the downside of being a small scale operation. I guess you could always revert to using cables for guitar and mics; it's a tried, tested and economic method.

Alternatively, you could follow the example of Britney and other mega-rich "artistes" and mime.

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Stop

Estimated value

Doesn't the estimated value of the kit involved crash spectacularly, the minute you publish the fact that it's going to suddenly be obsolete? So do they get cashback according to next week's estimate or last week's estimate?

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The Digital Switchover

The digital switchover is merely a part of a wider, ongoing attempt to design-out the possibility of citizen-led revolution against the multinational corporations to whose tune the government dance.

Building an analogue radio transmitter is not difficult, especially one working on the MW and LW bands. The parts you need can be had anywhere. FM isn't that much harder. Even analogue television is just about within the bounds of feasibility. Building a digital radio transmitter, on the other hand, requires proprietary parts whose supply is restricted. (The Internet absolutely cannot be counted upon as a distribution channel. It would be the work of a moment to release a worm capable of altering the proprietary media playing software not to work with unencrypted [and therefore possibly seditious] content.)

By the time people understand the need to get out of their armchairs, it will be too late.

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Anonymous Coward

@Mahatma Coat

"I guess you could always revert to using cables for guitar and mics; it's a tried, tested and economic method."

I really can't believe you suggested that seriously. What about amateur theatre productions performing in larger halls, where they have a few radio mics among the chorus while they are moving around? Should they all huddle round a mic now and not move round the stage?

It is a huge loss of value to lose wireless and these groups often don't have the cash to buy new for a second time, having struggled to get the cash to buy what they have in the first place.

I think the way people are being treated stinks. Mind you, no worse I suppose than shepherding the millions to buy another power consuming digi box to leave on standby with the existing TV while simultaneously bleating "green" and "low power digi box". Even a low power digi box times millions is a lot more power consumed than none at all.

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FAIL

@ AC

"I really can't believe you suggested that seriously."

I really can't believe you weren't paying attention to what I wrote. It was a suggestion to Chris O'Shea who mentioned his own guitar/vocal requirement. Jimi Hendrix managed to turn out a good performance or two while hamstrung by this stone age technology called "wires".

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Coat

Quick and dirty fix

Simply label the wireless mics as PLT devices then you can simply trample over vast swathes of spectrum cause massive interference with the full support of Ofcom.

My coat is the one with the Ofcom CEO in the pocket . . .

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OfFail

There is plenty of bandspace out there which Ofcom could recycle more effectively than radio mics.

It makes little sense to scrap technologically-backward but much used analogue TV and keep technologically-backward and widely-derided DAB in Band III.

It makes even less sense to leave the swathes of secondary-allocation bandspace radio amateurs have, especially that Ofcom has reduced the entry requirements for a licence to CB radio levels. The RSGB will kick off about it, but a small reduction in the percentage available to the "service", as it used to be called, would free up plenty of space for Ofcom to flog. How much do the RSGB pay for their freq allocs at the moment?

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Anonymous Coward

@Mahatma Coat

"I really can't believe you weren't paying attention to what I wrote. It was a suggestion to Chris O'Shea who mentioned his own guitar/vocal requirement. Jimi Hendrix managed to turn out a good performance or two while hamstrung by this stone age technology called "wires"."

I was paying attention, and I still can't believe you suggested that seriously.

Stone age people managed very well with stone wheels, but they aren't really practical today are they?

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Wires? Maybe

There's nothing at all wrong with wires - *IF* as a guitarist you never want to go further than about 10 feet from the amp, or as a singer you never want to leave the spot where your mic stand is. Those are valid assumptions for a lot of performances. But it doesn't hold true for most performances on larger stages, or for any performance involving singers dancing.

If it's a gig where you just go to hear the music and there's no significant stage act, then fine. Mark Knopfler or Chris Rea could work just fine without radio kit. But a large part of the stage act for bands like Metallica is the on-stage running-around, and that's impossible without radio kit. In the same vein, stage performances by Michael Jackson from "Thriller" onwards would have been impossible without radio mics.

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Anonymous Coward

Should be like for like replacement.

If Ofcom want to do this, then they should set up facilities whereby people can take their old defunct equipment and pick up a brand new alternative free. Just take the costs out of the "profit" they are making. that would be fair to all professionals and amateurs alike and would do wonders for some equipment manufacturers figures (preferably UK) for a couple of years.

Isn't there some way to get rid of this government before they do ANY more damage? We obviously can't rely on the Scots.

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Grenade

@ AC & Graham Bartlett

"Stone age people managed very well with stone wheels, but they aren't really practical today are they?"

Hardly a fair comparison to a guitar cable, is it? The greatest and most innovative players have come and gone and they all managed just fine with a cable. I can't recall any of them saying that if someone invented a wireless connection that they would have played any better. It was usually a desire for more sex and drugs that was top of the list.

"a large part of the stage act for bands like Metallica is the on-stage running-around, and that's impossible without radio kit."

I just consulted my copy of Bert Wheedon's Play in a Day and he doesn't mention on-stage running around once. I think you're confusing guitar playing with some kind of track sport.

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Anonymous Coward

@Mahatma Coat

You are attempting to switch the argument to one about how well people can play without with or without wireless.

The point is rather about the convenience of wireless v wired. Wired is not as convenient as wireless, and wireless enables additional things to be done that cannot be achieved when wired.

Loss of the wireless affects single performers and groups as stated above, and in my view people who use those facilities are being treated shabbily.

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FAIL

@mahatma

Yes, wired is okay for a lot of bands. Hell, in my local live-music venue the stage is so small it'd be pretty pointless to go wireless.

But take the example given of the show "We Will Rock You" (I've seen it, so I know what sort of movement is involved). It wouldn't have been anywhere near as good if it'd included "is this the real lif... oh, bugger. Give me a second, guys- the wire's snagged on the stairs..."?

While it's not absolutely required for purely musical events, the use of Wireless mics is a definite requirement for stage-shows, anything with a bit of flair or audience interaction and anything else people would actually want to see.

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