back to article Dig deep! Radio asks taxpayers for blank cheque

Timing is everything, comics say. So it is in politics, too. With the UK flat broke after Labour's nine-year drunken spending splurge, the taxpayer is now being asked to pay for lots of new radio masts, and associated infrastructure. The anointed successor to analog radio doesn't have anything like the infrastructure required …

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FAIL

Re: This requires "massive public funding"

No. It requires scrapping.

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Anonymous Coward

Totally agree ...

Don't want it, won't pay for it, FM is far superior and its cheap with an established viable hardware investment and infrastructure.

DAB is a pile of shit. Even the time signal arrives 3 seconds late. And sounds like a fart in a bathtub.

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Unhappy

DAB Fail DAB+ ok

Looks like a lot of European countries have DAB+, as it is better quality and can reach more people. DAB is not compatible with DAB+, so people who go out and buy a DAB radio for their car and then drive on holiday to europe will have no radio reception.

a dab radio adaptor looks to be in the region of £100 and higher, plus it needs a power source, most cars have custom built in radios, not going to be cheap, so suspect will stick with the mp3 player and the dab vendors can stick dab somewhere else

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Re: DAB Fail DAB+ ok

Oh and much more. Where I live is listed as a DAB reception area. My house is in a black spot, the reception is iffy, with a lot of racket on it. Then there is the poor compression ratio, the cost and yes the better quality of broadcast by ordinary FM radio as things currently are.

The people who tell us we want this have a vested interest, and part of that status requires them to overlook the FM radio to DAB radio purchase ratio.

It is an appalling medium, and I regret owning one. It would have been marvellous to plug it into the computer and record programmes if the reception were man enough, and if the compression ratio were anything but laughable.

A big fail. Another failed expensive technology project from the bunglers who brought many other such failures into being, the better to ruin the economy they farked up in so many different ways.

Birch the bastards.

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FAIL

Another day

Another load of BS about DAB.

I'm perfectly happy with DAB reception and content. Did they kill your cat or something? Or do you have shares in DAB+ manufacturer or something?

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Anonymous Coward

Most people aren't

The only reason most people use dab is to get something they can't via FM (usually 6 Music), and usually where there isn't telly or internet nearby (like the kitchen). Most people in my experience consider consider DAB an arseache they're willing to tolerate to get the content, rather than an advantage.

I bought a receiver for using in the bathroom in the mornings, after it chewed through batteries in less than a week I went back to my analogue transistor radio which is still going strong after about a year on batteries I nicked out of something else.

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Stop

Just because you are happy

Doesn't mean everyone else is. But reception is only part of it. The technology is too old, and barely fit for purpose. If people actually wanted DAB it would have been taken up years ago. The truth is, that they don't, and the only reason for switching from FM to DAB is that the FM spectrum can be sold to make some money for the govt.

At the last count, I have seven radios around the house, five are portables. Under normal circumstances I would expect to be replacing *none* of them for the foreseeable future. An enforced switch to DAB will cost me several hundred pounds, and provide me with what?

Oh, that's right, absolutely nothing....

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FAIL

Meh

You might be perfectly happy, but I can't receive a single DAB station at my place, and I don't exactly live out in the sticks.

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Anonymous Coward

Actually the switch would provide you with...

Higher costs either in mains electricity, or feeding them with batteries.

Yeah, a real step forward that it... has anyone ever worked out the carbon footprint impact of switching everyone over to DAB I wonder?

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No political bias then?

"With the UK flat broke after Labour's nine-year drunken spending splurge"

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Silver badge

Re: No political bias then?

I think you'll be hard pushed to describe it as anything else!

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Grenade

@No political bias then?

I didn't realise it was considered bias if you state facts.

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Funny definition of facts

Seeing as our debt is no worse (as a proportion of GDP) than it has been for 200 out of the last 250 years. If we're broke now, then we must have nearly always been broke.

http://www.johannhari.com/2011/03/29/the-biggest-lie-in-british-politics

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@Ben Bawden

You do realise that interest is a percentage of what you owe - because the volume you owe is still the same percentage of GDP doesn't mean that GDP hasn't gone up so the amount you owe is up and therefore the interest is even higher still.

Especially when you're discussing numbers as large as the UK's GDP.

Save in boom spend in bust - but only because of Labour who spent spent spent in the boom times we have to scrape through the bust or be in even worse shape.

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Bronze badge

That article...

Is utter bullocks.

Lets quickly look at the times when he says our percentage of GDP as debt has been higher than it is now, and why that was.

During the industrial revolution :

Google the Great French war, and the second hundred years war. The Great French war alone amounted to 24 and a half years of being at war with virtually every military power on the face of the planet. Later we armed and financed anybody who would help against the french besides of defending portugal, and invading spain and france. After that we were indeed pretty bust and yes, it took forever to pay that off.

When we ruled a quarter of the planet:-

The British Empire reached it's greatest extent in 1918. That's immediately after a little war that goes by the name of WW1, or the Great War because we received Germany's colonies as war reparations. Would you like to make any guesses about government spending in WW1? Clue; it was quite high.

We were bust when we beat the Nazi's:-

So bust it took us SIXTY BLOODY YEARS to pay that debt off. Still, let's not let spoil things by interjecting facts into the picture hey?

Let's summarise. In the past 250 years the only causes of us having this much debt as we currently have are as a result of purchasing absolutely massive levels of military hardware to win global scale wars in which the very existence of the country has been at stake. The current reason for having this level of debt is that we have a fricking huge public sector that is producing nothing but red tape, and instead of having bought something that we are then paying off we are continuing to spend more than we are receiving in tax income.

Cutting the deficit in half means cutting deficit spending in half. (simple words here; imagine you earn £100 pounds but spend £300. The government plans to cut the defecit in half by only spending £200, £100 more than we are earning. Get it?

Also, Keynes said that in an economic cycle we should save in the good years and spend that surplus in the bad years. I'm not aware of him saying that we should borrow hundreds of billions of pounds to randomly waste on things before then having to cut spending below what it would otherwise have been, and increasing taxes to pay the interest on the debt we racked up for no good reason. (which then further hurts struggling businesses)

So yes, we have nearly always been broke. The difference is that before it was as a result of having been forced to spend that money or lose wars of which the existence of the country was at stake. This time it was to fiddle the unemployment stats, then to fiddle the growth stats.

History will not be kind to the Parliamentary Labour Party.

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So the Tories best friends, the Bankers...

in the City had nothing to do with the deficit then?

It was all Labours fault!

Nothing to do with that bunch of reckless, thieving charlatans who collectively did more to bring down our free market economy than Stalin and Chairman Mao combined.

Oh I forgot... they all vote Tory, can't possibly be at fault. Poor misunderstood bankers.

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FAIL

GDP is crap

Say I run a big company that runs it's own lorry fleet (e.g. Sainsbury's). My company's contribution to GDP is it's turn-over.

Now say that I sell the lorry fleet to another company, and the only thing that that company does it run lorries for me (call it Sainsbury's logistics or something). Now the contribution to GDP is the turn-over of BOTH companies. The same number of people are employeed doing the same work, and Sainsbury's still spends the same money running the same lorries, but GDP is UP!!!

Now say I also sell the buildings and call the company Sainsbury's buildings, and maybe do the same several times over. The actual money and effect to the country is identical, but GDP is increased 500%. Woo hoo suddenly the whole country is better WTF ??

Yup, GDP is a statistic.

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Hang on a minute...

...what's the government's purpose again? Perhaps they had some responsibility for not regulating the financial sector properly?

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FAIL

Re: Funny definition of facts

"Seeing as our debt is no worse (as a proportion of GDP) than it has been for 200 out of the last 250 years."

The biggest peacetime national debt in history is no worse?

I thought not. Magical thinking will not change the facts, not now, not ever.

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Re: Re: No political bias then?

>I think you'll be hard pushed to describe it as anything else!

Indeed. It is one of many failed IT projects. This has been a complaint about Labour governments for more than 30 years, probably 40.

On the question of DAB itself there is at least one Usenet News group devoted to the topic. I think it might be this one:

https://groups.google.com/group/alt.radio.digital/topics?lnk=srg

After I bought my DAB radio, having checked to see if it would work in my area (reception in my part of this area is abysmal) I checked this news group to read about other experiences and opinions. It is an eye opener for those who uncritically accept it, and I concede it's possible to do so if the reception is good, just as long as a deaf ear is turned toward the shoddy compression ratio. I cannot find an analogy to employ to describe it. Online radio is superior to this crud.

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FAIL

Re: Funny definition of facts

The article you cite is utter tosh, and nothing better than much of the trolling material that people cite in defence of silliness elsewhere. There's nothing respectable about it, the writer offers no source material in support of his arguments, and there is no bibliography. From an academic perspective it would be a delight to mark this 'ordinary', that is below a 3rd. Actually I might refuse to mark it.

In order to understand why we are here remind yourself of these; the selling below market rates of 30 tonnes of gold (when the market was at a low, Brown himself announcing the sale in advance thereby depressing the price to at least 7 billion below price); Brown's 120 billion pension raid; the destruction of NHS dentistry by the so-called socialists in the Labour party; Blair making war more times than any other PM in history, whilst actually having the cheek to make the MoD finance these wars instead of using the emergency fund (which probably didn't exist, I'll grant); the over bloated public sector, for which you, I and the private sector (remember them, do you?) must pay alongside every other needless debt these twerps accumulated; the Labour party's addiction to impractical IT and similar white elephant projects (including the national ID card), which cost billions...

...do you want me to continue to enumerate the list of Labour's catastrophic fiscal history?

FWIW Labour have been criticised since well before 1980 for over bloating the public sector and wildly impractical projects. It was on the Government 101 course of my first year (1980) when I first became aware of it. I remember being cynical about it and by degrees learning that this was ill advised.

I also learned that there was then no energy policy, and had not been for quite some time. When their backs were against the wall about energy the Labour party drew up a strategy of sorts. Simultaneously they increased the population of this country by some 4 millions, at a time when phosphates (used in fertilisers) have reached peak, food costs are increasing not just because of demand but also because transporting them is now expensive (see oil), when we are experiencing flash floods due to over building and other environmental abnormalities brought about by overpopulating the world.... ....these people behaved like bulls in a china shop.

I regret voting for them having supported them during the lean years, as should all of their 1997 supporters. The only good thing that I did was to turn away several Labour 'talent scouts' (on grounds of corruption no less, and this was in the early 1990s; how percipient!) who seemed to think that I would be useful.

My greatest hope now is that the Liberals will learn from their period in office, become wiser and less prone to policy silliness and replace the Labour party. After all, it was the Liberal party that set off the mixed economy welfare state with a) the pension and b) social housing.

As someone else earlier observed, history will not be kind to the Labour party. I am utterly amazed that one of the Milibands was elected to head the Labour party, not least because of their excessively extremist background, including family mileu; but did they not appoint the utterly useless Michael Foot after 1979? Perhaps it was a good thing. Perhaps Labour can now be consigned to the dustbin of history and a more enlightened form of politics can begin, one that does not make war on the co-religionists of many of the immigrants it brought into this country, thus not being responsible for the needless slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

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Re: Hang on a minute...

"...what's the government's purpose again? Perhaps they had some responsibility for not regulating the financial sector properly?"

And did not Lord Peter Mandelson say "I have no problems with people being filthy rich (as long as they pay their taxes)", and then collectively, with one of the most corrupt parties in the last 100 years allow just that, by dint of "light touch regulation" and intimate dinners with the very class of people whom we wish to blame for the current fiasco?

How many Labour MPs engaged in expenses fraud of the most egregious kind? Think for a moment of gluttony and then remember overweight Tom Watson, who was such a big spender with his supermarket that he was given a pizza cutter. What was his little expenses thing? Tom Watson claimed the maximum £4,800 allowance for food in a single year.

Currently this creature is trying to make a name for himself in criticising coalition efforts to reduce the debt. If you look at photographs of the obese Tom Watson you may find yourself scratching your head and wondering why we voted for these creatures. I do.

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Unhappy

Enormous waste of time

I had a DAB alarm clock briefly last year, the reception was terrible, it took up to 5 seconds to 'tune' every time I turned it on and it lost reception completely requiring a power cycle every time I dared to switch a lightbulb on or off within 20 feet of it.

The technology simply doesn't work, why the push to force eveyrone onto it?

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FAIL

I think you got a lemon

Personlally, I have a couple of DAB radios and they work fine. If your lightbulbs are effecting your mains power ring like that, get an electrician in quick!

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5

It wasn't just the lights

One of my neighbours using a pertol lawnmower had exactly the same effect, signal dropped to nothing, even when the radio was running off batteries.

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Silver badge

Doubt it. He's just in a marginal reception area like most of the country.

DAB is extremely sensitive to RF interference, and covers a tiny percentage of the UK land area. These are facts.

FM is also sensitive to RF interference, but because it's an analogue signal it can stand much more interference before it becomes bad enough to be not worth listening to.

I only listen to wireless radio in my car. At home I use broadband or Freeview/Freesat.

I'm never going to go out and buy a DAB receiver for my car, and the vast majority of people won't either - aftermarket car radios are £60+ and look really bad in most cars, and manufacturer's ones are extremely expensive. Given that you get poor-to-middling reception most places you'd drive (like inside cities with tall and close buildings), why bother?

On my daily commute I pass through several small FM blackspots - those would clearly also be inside much larger DAB blackspots.

So takeup is only ever going to be ever-so-slightly higher than the rate of new cars sold with DAB fitted. It would be very interesting to know how many of those DAB radios sold actually get used as DAB and not FM - I'd guess very few.

According to the official coverage map, if you don't live in a city and are welsh, scottish, cumbrian, north yorkshire, midlands, coastal... you probably don't have any coverage anyway.

(http://www.ukdigitalradio.com/images/coverage-map.gif)

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This again!

Why don't they look at the public action, which is largely non existent and go, 'you know what, this isn't working let's knock it on the head"

DAB sounds awful, truly awful.... people will tolerate a bit of background hiss when an FM signal goes weak, but when DAB goes, it's an awful mess.

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Silver badge

too many channels, too little bandwidth

With most stations using abysmally low bit rates how do you even notice bad reception? Sounds crap all the time.

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FAIL

Unwanted, Unloved and Unnecessary

I want 57 TV channels with nothing on. But with Radio I'm happy for the core BBC + local stations + ethic ones I get - around 15 with a car aerial.

How much more 'choice' do I need, at the expense of ripping out every car stereo on millions of cars, plus billions more on infrastructure for a WORSE experience of listening.

Cost vs. Benefit - Fail.

DAB - stick it up your arse!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unwanted, Unloved and Unnecessary

"I want 57 TV channels with nothing on."

Fine. Just keep the curtains closed, thanks.

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57 TV Channels

Is that Heinz TV?

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WTF?

Digital doesn't degrade gracefully

Until digital radio and TV via aerial don't cut out randomly all the time, even in areas of "good reception", we might see a bigger uptake. The cheek of asking the public to pay for a system which is admittedly better in some respects than analogue, but A LOT worse in others, is staggering.

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Anonymous Coward

Really?

I don't listen to DAB so I can't comment, but I've never seen a single example of DVB cutting out randomly and that's with an aerial in the roof space.

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My car has an FM radio in it.

I only listen to the radio in the car. I won't be in the market for a new car or car radio in the foreseeable future.

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Syd

And even if you buy a new car...

... it won't necessarily have DAB - my wife's brand new, top-of-the-range Nissan doesn't!

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FAIL

£360+VAT

On my new Lexus, if I had cared to order it. Which I didn't...

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Silver badge
Coat

Only-

the Ford Ennals comes with DAB as standard...

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Silver badge

DAB?

Ah yes, DAB, the all singing, all dancing radio technology that doesn't work in cars very well...

Hmmm, so it is best suited to stationary use... Like at home, where you've got a PC which can stream a zillion internet radio stations with no reception issues...

Oh dear.

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Badgers

Yes cars

Works very well in cars. Works well in houses too. And outside. No wi-fi needed.

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Alert

Actually...

It works best in cars.

I picked up a car set about 6 years ago to listen to my local AM station, (as it was then) Virgin and BBC7 and it works really well. Ive hired cars since and falling back to FM on the move is a real PITA with far more drop outs and retuning required (I live half way between Birmingham and Manchester so every national station is "distant". As a SFN DAB Handles itself *very* well.

Also the combination of road and engine noise means you don't notice the abysmal audio quality at 128k MP2 Joint Stereo...

The principle is great, the implementation is lousy.

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Pirate

Nothing to offer

It's got nothing to offer because a large part of the UK Radio industry has nothing to offer, certainly not in the way of innovation. Does anyone think a lot of these "new" stations actually deliver anything that the listener wants? They'll stay hooked up to their *pod or just listen to FM radio.

As for the technology, it's going backwards really, at least my portable radio doesn't eat batteries like a DAB one does.

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Silver badge

@Enormous waste of time

Because 3G licenses raised 25Bn so somebody has decided that selling a few 10MHz of FM spectrum will obviously raise more (not sure how - they probably multiplied the number of people listening to FM by the price of an iPad or something)

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IT Angle

and an even bigger waste of money

who ended up paying for those 3g licences? we did! this is why those theiving bastards at vodafone and the like charge 50p a packet, which is why mobile internet has been strangled at birth.

if we're stupid enough to free up the fm spectrum there won't be billions to be made by selling it off.

and besides, there's fuck all worth listening to on dab. maybe someone should tell the dab fanbois about this interweb thing and how that might possibly be used to distribute what used to be called "radio"?

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Thumb Up

@Yet ANother Anonymous coward

"Because 3G licenses raised 25Bn so somebody has decided that selling a few 10MHz of FM spectrum will obviously raise more (not sure how - they probably multiplied the number of people listening to FM by the price of an iPad or something)"

Now *this* makes sense.

Someone somewhere making a big bag of zlotys on an auction sounds *exactly* the motivation to continue pushing this.

When people continue to support pointless, unpopular, destructive polices just do 1 thing,

Follow the money.

BTW IIRC each FM channel is 150Khz wide. That's a nice piece of space to occupy for some newer forms of bandwidth efficient modulation.

Thumbs up for the stance, not the policy.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

The problem with DAB...

...is that in addition to the poor range (because they use a frequency that's more than double that used for FM and hence subject to more than 6dB relative reduction in signal level) it uses a poor codec with low compression, resulting in poor error rate performance and no space in the stream for FEC data to help remedy this.

If DAB is to have a future, then the provision of better codecs in DAB+ must be mandated. That would also allow more channels per Mux and reduce the cost to the radio stations that are broadcasting since it won't make the transmitters any more expensive.

However, it will make 95%+ of the DAB radios sold so far obsolete, and getting everyone to buy new kit again will be rather difficult due to the lack of foresight on the part of the government, BBC and other interested parties.

What a mess!

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Silver badge

DAB's problem

DAB had the misfortune to turn up at a time that it was already obsolete. Just as people were getting into MP3 (Mpeg-1 Audio Layer III) and later AAC, along trots DAB with crappy MPEG-1 Audio Layer II (MP2). MP2 gobbles up 2x the bandwidth for the same subjective quality as AAC.

DAB+ rectifies the issue by adopting HE-AAC and error correction for better reception but that's kind of beside the point when no DAB receiver would be able to do anything with the signal. The gov would probably have to mandate that any DAB set be also capable of receiving DAB+ and give the market a few years for compatible devices become entrenched before switching over.

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Profauxsal

Can anyone really see this one flying?

Clearly we need an SI unit of ludicrosity in order that we can successfully correlate ludicrosity vs probability of idiotic scheme actually happening. Perhaps the DAB might be a better unit.

Anyway, I have just got a 'new' car. Not new new obviously. In my previous car I had an ISO radio slot and got a DAB radio for it which worked pretty well, I thought. Bizarrely, it had an option where it could turn itself on with a timer and record things onto an SD card. I never had the nerve to try this for fear that it would manage to flatten the battery, but you have to admit that this is clearly a feature that the world has been crying out for. Cunningly, it named the files MP3 despite them being MP2 just to confuse people nicely.

Unfortunately, the new car, in common with every car I looked at this time, it didn't have an ISO slot so I am forced to listen to 5 Live on AM.

So, if FM and AM were ever switched off, imagine the percentage of cars that are going to be able to have DAB radios even if their owners are willing to fork out the distinctly non-trivial sums for them.

(yes, I know that ludicrousness is the real world but I prefer ludicrosity, so there).

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My kitchen

I have an old Sony FM radio/cassette/CD player in the kitchen. It stopped playing CDs years ago but I keep it just so I can have my favourite radio stations on when I'm cooking. Reception is not perfect but it is more than acceptable.

Now under those reception conditions, I suspect that DAB will be (a) worse due to the usual "bubbling mud" problem; (b) worse in terms of overall sound quality; and (c) definitely more expensive in terms of up-front equipment and running costs. So it's going to take a lot to convince me to switch to DAB. I'm certainly not going to go to the expense and effort of putting up an external aerial just to listen to what I can already get.

When I'm relaxing at home, I get radio through my Freesat box, at high quality and with plenty of choice.

In the same way, I'm not changing the radio in my car (which is a unique-fit type) just to hear what I can already hear.

FM reception degrades gracefully under worsening reception conditions; DAB just stops working. It has nothing to recommend it under my own circumstances.

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hehe, Wooly Bullies

One two one two three four.

Dab told Eddy about a thing she saw.

Had two big aerials and a wooly flaw.

Wooly bullyies, wooly bullies.

Wooly bullies, wooly bullies, wooly bullies.

Eddy told Dab, "Let's don't take no chance.

Let's not be £70m, don't come here for finance."

Wooly bullies, wooly bullies

Wooly bullies, wooly bullies, wooly bullies.

Dab told Eddy, "That's the thing to do.

Need someone really to pull the wool over yo' eyes"."

Wooly bullyies, wooly bullies.

Wooly bullies, wooly bullies, wooly bullies.

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lou

DVB-T2

DVB-T2 in could be the answer. It offers lots of modes that offer good robustness and coverage is already very good.

Scrapping DAB and DAB+ would be mildly painful, but in the long run a harmonised broadcast system would be much more sane and would allow pan-european reception too.

The sooner DAB dies and is replaced the better.

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