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back to article Stephen Fry's truly terrible mistake

It's little wonder that Stephen Fry holds such a place in the nation's affections. He's earned it through a string of unforgettable performances. There's his voiceover for Direct Line's pet insurance, his voiceover for the 2008 Argos catalogue, not to mention voiceovers for Anchor Butter, Tesco, Dairylea, Kenco, Coca Cola, …

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Slightly Unfair

From the authors own link, Stephen Frys "indiscriminate love of a voiceover cheque" amounts to one voiceover this year (not including the DAB one which is not listed). Of course, he indiscriminately did 5 last year (ignoring that 4 were for the same brand), 1 in 2008 and 2 in 2007. A shocking number amounting to 10 in the last 3.5 years, or 6 for different brands. How could he be so ruthlessly indiscriminate?

Whatever the merits, or lack of, DAB, I'm not sure the attack is justified for the reasons suggested by the article, and based on data the author links to. Not really sure what the motivation for this article really was.....

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Unhappy

andanotherthing....

..all the arguments about the (lack of) quality of DAB have been well rehearsed - and fallen on the dismally cloth-like ears of those in authority!

But what really pisses me off is the thought of scrapping about a thousand quids worth of good quality F.M. receivers.

And then this smug git keep telling me this new stuff is so much better when FACT it ain't.

OK they _may_ solve the problems with mobile reception in cars and the sound quality of sets currently on offer may be good enough for background listening etc. but what the F**K do I replace my HiFi systems with.

wiltshirejohn

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Dead Vulture

I'm DEEPLY dissapointed...

That you think it in any way informative or appropriate to turn your issues with the the DAB platform into a scathing personal attack on Stephen Fry...

He's an actor and voice-over work is part of his stock and trade, which is certainly less distasteful than pompous oppinionated gutter journalism, (yes you have managed to drag a serious and important debate about DAB into the gutter with this 'article'). Why the hell does a voice over have to be considered an endorsement? Have you checked that every peice of work you've referenced was actually done by him? If a company wants his voice they'll get it anyway either from him or a sound-alike.

He's never claimed to be a 'tech savy' comentator, but rather confessed quite openly and bravely to being a bi-polar gadget addicted shop-a-holic who compulsively buys more technology than he has need or use for.

Shame on you for this garbage, SHAME.

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Bronze badge

But is Fry really an actor?

He's certainly getting a lot of acting work these days, but I don't really think of him as "an actor" any more. He's a personality, a commentator, and perhaps the closest thing the average TV viewer will see to a philosopher.

When he sells tea, I still see the actor. But what I see in this campaign is different -- I see a trusted media figure, a man of unquestionable intellect, giving me advice. (Fortunately, I already know his advice is wrong.)

You can say that this is my fault, but it's pretty damned normal really, and is, after all, the reason they're using him for the campaign in the first place.

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Actor?

He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his lead role in a Hollywood film.

Perhaps we have different dictionaries.

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Megaphone

voice over = endorsement

"Why the hell does a voice over have to be considered an endorsement?"

Because whether you agree with it or not, people hear/see the person and assume that they agree with the product in question. I, for example, believe that Richard Hammond and Alan Hansen both think Morrisons is a good supermarket.

Consider the alternative - do you think that Stephen Fry would accept the work if he believed DAB radio was horrendous?

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Oooh look, someone offended one of his twittertard acolytes

..a group of people that I dislike even more than the fair Mr. Orlowski, which is going some.

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FAIL

title goes here

Like Carol Vorderman (who is good at sums) endorsing FirstPlus as a sound financial investment?

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Internet radio on the go

DAB's dead baby, DAB's dead.

You can use internet radio on the go (and in a car!) if you can get internet on your phone. This is what I use to listen to 6 music and french stations (which are magnifique) on my daily commute.

Get yourself acquainted with moodio.fm and you don't even need 3g.

(btw before anyone starts moaning about data charges, i'm on a cheapo O2 simplicity and never once been charged extra)

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Out of Curiosity

Possible no-one knows for certain but:

If everyone follows this advice - use your phone to stream over 3G/GPRS instead of DAB/FM - could the networks cope? Or do we think that their current infrastructure might fall over?

Obviously, they could upgrade the infrastructure, but that takes time and money. I'm also not that taken with the quality of the speakers on my phone. I suppose I could hook up a FM transmitter to overcome the issue - but then that's two bits of kit I need to carry instead of the one I carry anyway.

DAB aint the way forward, but I'm still not conviced that Internet Radio is either, despite the benefits. Not that a perfect solution is really acheivable.

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CM
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He has form

Those Direct Line ads. He purrs that you have to go to their site because DL quotes are not available on the consolidators, as if this is a *good* thing! That lost it for me. Plugging old valve radios, sorry, DAB with its wide lapel and bell-bottom codecs and complimentary boiling mud is more dosh to his account, and the last desperate attempt by a gov-subsidised sinking industry.

Handing in good radios as an "amnesty", what next? How failed can Marketing be?

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Badgers

Direct quotes

you pays your money you makes your choice. go to a comparison site where they get a slice of the commission so they can make ads with meerkats or go direct where they use the money to render a telephone on wheels.

Badgers, cos it's the closest thing to meerkats

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Unlike Willie, a pimp, not a ponce.

Willie Donaldson's 'Dictionary of National Celebrity' famously defined him as "A stupid person's idea of a clever person". I hope, Andrew, you're not suggesting he's also just a technophobe's idea of a geek, without anything more than a superficial love of toys? (The wonderful 'conversation agency' wearesocial winched him into the Twitter saddle).

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Killer quote!

"Willie Donaldson's 'Dictionary of National Celebrity' famously defined him as "A stupid person's idea of a clever person""

This I shall remember. It is good.

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Maybe it will work?

If Fry's campaign works and everyone switches to DAB, maybe some of the problems with it will go away. The radios will be cheaper, coverage better etc...

Is there any sort of link explaining this scrappage thing yet? (I know I could google it, but I'm lazy)

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Commercial greed

So is Mr Orlowski's rant (for that's all it is) a rant about DAB being bad or Stephen Fry's voiceover appearing to convey that he endorses the bad product? Seems poorly aimed either way.

DAB has been a victim of the broadcasters' desire to reduce signal quality to the consumer's tolerance threshold in a desperate aim to shovel more shit at us. You only have to see the sprawl of stations (especially on TV) peddling generic rubbish at terrible quality. In this light, it's not hard to see why internet radio is succeeding: it is at least possible to find some high bandwidth streams that don't sound appallingly compressed on anything other than supermarket brand hi-fi.

Not for nothing have Pure gained the greatest DAB penetration with a portable set whose speaker placement means it may as well be playing a mono signal from 1955.

Broadcasters: give us fewer channels with better programmes, in better quality. Stop assaulting our audio/visual senses with dumbed down crap.

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Unhappy

Nothing wrong with DAB

Just had a little count and we have six DAB radios in the house and they all do what they are supposed to. Without interference. Or dropped signal. At the push of a button. Sound good too, for portable devices. And we get 6 Music (for now) and 5 Live Sports X etc.

So no routers, servers, internet connections, wifi, modems, encryption, ISPs etc. to worry about.

Just in case you are thinking I'm a complete luddite, most of my music listening at home is streamed from the pay version of Spotify so I get the internet bit too. But there's nothing wrong with DAB.

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Stop

Can you do this

http://scitoys.com/scitoys/scitoys/radio/homemade_radio.html

With DAB?

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the rest of the world

The rest of the world sees the UK DAB progress as an amazing feat. You actually have sets at home. You can probably go to a store and just buy one without having to get it ordered. In Germany that's simply impossible.

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Dead Vulture

Content is King!

DAB might have some technical and financial issues but it also has 6Music (for now), which makes it culturally more valuable than the entire output of FM put together. Quality of Content trumps quality of transmission every time, and FM offers an woefully, woefully narrow diet.

I'd rather listen to 6Music/NME Radio/Planet Rock/XFM/Amazing via a windup radio played via a speaker from a musical-christmas car, while underwater, than be sat in the corner of the recording studio of most FM stations...

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Anger management

Andrew, have you considered anger management?

Seriously. This post is so mis-judged on almost every level.

Stephen Fry is a superb comic actor. He has also made a lot of money doing advertising deals. This is what many actors do. Get over it. Your introduction to this post is both childish and an embarrassment.

DAB is a limited technology, anybody that works in technology or radio knows this, although the vast majority of people with DAB radios still seem to like them. Just as the vast majority of people 'seem to like' using Internet Explorer, because it does what they want it to do. We will no doubt transition to DAB+ /internet radio in the coming years as listeners and the industry both begin to realise what are the best ways of doing so.

Do you - or a sub, or anybody else - actually re-read your posts? Or do you just bash them out in the grip of a pique about something that you haven't really thought through and then hit 'post'?

I ask this because your geek-elitist whining really grates. It is just not helpful or informative or even welcome. It is just off-putting. You really should try harder to formulate arguments to convince others of your thoughts and ideas, instead of this childish ranting against what you seem to wrongly perceive to be 'the man'.

Get. Over. It.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Anger management

You sound quite angry yourself, there "Zoyd". I'm worried.

But at least you got it off your chest, with the bonus of Completely Missing The Point.

Better out than in.

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FAIL

Stephen Fry's priorities

I note that at the moment he is promoting prostate cancer awareness via http://thegreatdragrace.org/

You should write and tell him to stop wasting his time and concentrate on the important stuff like DAB radio.

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MJI
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Wrong type of drag

I thought it was 1/4 mile

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Don't forget

Robert Webb is also doing voiceovers for the fantastic value 'trade in'. Apparently "It's brilllllliant", swapping an fm radio for dab

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Where's Richard Hammond when you need him?

"technology-illiterate, hand-me-the-cheque B- or C-list celeb, we wouldn't be too surprised."

I wonder if Hammond will fire his agent for missing this perfect gig for him?

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Pleas Don't Scrap DAB Just Yet!

Because I have just bought a very expensive Yamaha Y40D surround sound bar with in-built DAB tuner and it sounds awesome!

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I'm sure you'd turn down the gig, Andrew

If you were ever asked. Which you won't be. Ever.

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WTF?

Tech Expert

Why do the BBC continually get tech soundbites (or rather, glowing recommendations of Apple products) from Mr Fry? His tech knowledge begins and ends with Twitter. I can boil a kettle. Does that make me a Michelin Chef cable of running a top restaurant?

As for DAB, I've given up with it at home as more often than not it drops the connection so I use an Internet readio instead. As for the car, unless I pay £££ I can't have it and my guess is it would be awful!.

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FAIL

FM stations not on DAB

This particularly narks me. Not Mr.Fry as I do like him generally, but the whole "Give up your FM and go to DAB" stance.

I am a director for a community radio station for the area, and we are only permitted on FM and internet, so everyone goes for this DAB trade-in scheme, we loose our audience, we loose our advertisers and the whole community radio as we know it in the UK dies. (OK, I know its not got the best future with Ofcom already, but still).

So if this is going to work, it needs to be done better, whoever is leading this seems not to care about anyone who can't afford the huge premium to get a DAB channel. Oh that'll be the BBC then....

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How many DAB sets are purely DAB though?

The 3 DAB sets I personally own, plus the countless others I've looked at over the years, all have the ability to receive both DAB and FM transmissions.

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But...

My DAB radio has FM as well (Not AM etc though) so I could still listen to you. At least whilst that area of spectrum is in use.

There are a couple of flaws though;

- I assume not every DAB has an FM Tuner as well

- There's no guarantee they wont make it very hard to be/stay FM in an attempt to boost DAB

Although I largely disagree with the article (why target Stephen Fry? The points made are semi valid) I do think it's people like you who will really suffer.

Also, from the comments here I'm getting the impression that DAB coverage is better outside Towns/Cities? Seems a little backward.

For people talking about 3G, consider this:

In my special brand of the future, there is no DAB or FM Radio. We've gone 100% Internet radio.

Although you may be able to listen to Internet Radio using your phone/laptop for free at the moment (all inclusive data package etc.). When an Internet connection is _necessary_, what are the odds that your new car/radio will have a monthly contract attached. So you'll pay £20 (for example) a month for your 10G connectivity (OK so it may not be called 10G!).

I'd much rather pay for a radio once, rather than having to pay monthly. Of course it may be that connectivity will be freely available, but it has to be paid for somehow (probably in the cost of the radio?)

Given the choice, I'd stick with FM, but at work neither FM or the Internet are an option so it has to be DAB. I'd have preferred the DAB money to be spent on boosting FM reception, but at least I can listen to the radio at work now!

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Holding Out

I'm not going to spend money on DAB radios with the current state of affairs. If they turn off the analogue transmitters then I'll either listen to stuff via the internet or go without.

Perhaps when the running costs of a DAB portable radio match that of an FM radio, and the coverage is as good as or better, I might be persuaded.

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Stop

Internet Radio

Excuse me a minute, I'm just off to tell my eighty-something year old mother that she should throw out the DAB radios she's got in the kitchen and bedroom (which she's perfectly happy with, and which unlike the FM radios they replaced carriy a range of stations she wants to listen to and can tune in to easily and consistently regardless of what the fridge, freezer and washing machine are doing) in favour of signing up for a broadband internet package which she has no other use for, installing and configuring a router (which will run 24/7 consuming power all the time unlike the DAB radio which runs for a couple of hours a day at most), and then buying yet another piece of kit to actually listen to stuff with. What's that Mum, you don't fancy that idea? How odd...

Internet radio is a bloody silly idea because it requires the end user to invest in lumps of infrastructure and pay a subscription just to listen to the wireless, whether they want to do anything else with it or not.

Sky/Freeview are crap because nobody makes a dedicated portable radio equivalent (and you'd look really bloody silly carrying a Sky dish or a terrestrial TV antenna around the house with you).

FM's broken because there just isn't the bandwidth available to carry a decent selection of national and local channels.

DAB's not perfect but it's here, and it works well enough for most people for most purposes most of the time (which lets fact it is as much as you've ever been able to say for FM - in my particular not-especially-rural corner of Eastern England all you'll reliably get on FM without an external antenna is taxis and passing aircraft...) and anyone who wants to scrap it in favour of something completely incompatible will have to make a better case than they've managed so far to convince me...

--

Jonathon.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Internet Radio

"Internet radio is a bloody silly idea because it requires the end user to invest in lumps of infrastructure and pay a subscription just to listen to the wireless, whether they want to do anything else with it or not."

No it doesn't.

By the way, I am intrigued to find out what stations does your Mum wants to listen to that she can't receive via FM.

1Xtra? The Asian Network? Panjab FM? The Polish Network? The British Forces Broadcasting Service?

Do tell.

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Oz

Re Internet Radio

The problem is that your experience is not everyone's. My FM reception is brilliant, but my DAB is flaky at best. I listen to music on the radio, and I just can't stand the bubbling effect as the signal goes in and out. For me, unlike, you, DAB is not the panacea - much as I would like to be.

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Curious

How does Internet Radio not require the end user to invest in a broadband connection?

Surely an Internet Radio needs access to the um.. Internet? OK so perhaps some may be available with 3G on pay as you go/contract but either way you're having to pay to listen to the radio.

Of course, you may know of a radio that offers free connectivity for people that don't have/want the Internet.

Also, people criticise the price of DAB radios - have you seen the price of a dedicated Internet Radio????? Ouch!

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DAB - depends where you live

DAB might well be fine for some, but until 2012 it sucks for me (I'm in North Kent). In the morning my DAB radio works fine for me in the kitchen - in the evening I get the 'bubbling mud' problem. My DAB radios simply do not work at all in the conservatory or lounge - (as I have a small house we are only talking a few metres from the kitchen). I have to balance my kitchen DAB radio high up for a decent signal.

Coverage is the problem. I was listening to 5Live on DAB when the F1 coverage moved to 5Live F1. I searched for the station, found it and then my radio said that the station was off-line.

My cheap Sony AM/FM radio works anywhere. At home I can get 5Live in the bathroom (on AM), the battery lasts well over a year and it just works.

Until the Digital Change-Over fully happens in 2012 DAB will not do well (IMHO)

NoOnions

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: DAB - depends where you live

"Until the Digital Change-Over fully happens in 2012 DAB will not do well (IMHO)"

Um, there is no switchover.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/06/19/carter_radio_dumb_media/

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Unhappy

Aw, damn!

Andrew, I had stupidly assumed that when TV goes fully digital that they would also be able to boost the DAB signal strength - (I didn't mean to suggest that radio was going digital only). Is there no link at all? Is my naff DAB signal simply down to poor transmitters in my area?

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WTF?

@AlgernonFlowers4

I'm confused, how can ~128Kbps mono MP2 ever sound awesome?

DAB's "good enough" for a portable radio that doesn't actually move far and runs off the mains, but not anything more serious. I might not mind the DAB push so much, were it not for efforts to switch off FM further down the road!

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I assumed

that he meant music played through it from other sources sounded awesome.

That said, unless you are an audiophile DAB generally sounds good enough (given a decent signal of course)

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nice if you can get it

The people all for DAB will be the ones living in perfect reception areas. The problem with these new digital systems is thats all or nothing, those that live in poor reception areas will get nothing; but since when have the HAVEs cared about the HAVE NOTS.

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Agreed

I agree that you either have it or you don't

It was/is my biggest gripe with Freeview. With terrestrial you can watch a weak signal (through fuzz admittedly) but you've no hope with digital.

The same goes for the radio, and coverage seems to be very patchy (to the point some locations in the office get 0% signal - my office aint that big!)

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Gav
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Sound quality

I can't believe anyone can trumpet about internet radio, while also having a go at DAB for its sound quality.

Internet radio is great, but sound quality is not its forte. And then there's the lags and breaks in audio when the buffer runs dry.

Besides that, broadcasting to a large number of people over a well defined geographical area through the internet is madness. If you and your neighbour are listening to the same radio programme, you have two copies of exactly the same information being streamed down the same wires. It's a huge waste of bandwidth and resources.

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Multicast...

Is the answer to carrying multiple copies of the same info all the way from the 'broadcaster'. But that'd require BT to get its act together so don't hold your breath on that either.

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Let me read that again

"DAB radios, on the other hand, stop working once you cross the Channel."

WHAT! FUCK THAT!

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FM Vs DAB === Windows Vs Mac

...is and equally tedious.

For what it's worth I have both analogue and digital radios; I use both flavours. I prefer the convenience of DAB and I listen to Test Match Special on Long Wave in my car.

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Fry used as excuse to get on hobby-horse.

Media uses Stephen Fry to promote position on DAB - Andrew used his name in the headline. Don't think that made his argument more interesting and relevant.

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Boffin

Girls

I like to hook up my ridiculously small DAB radio to my 200 Watt bass combo amp and blast out a popular rock station on sunny days. FM has a hiss and so is crap.

There, stop being a bunch of girls, Mr fry played a first world war general or whatever in blackadder goes forth, and thus makes him frightfully groovy ( and funny)

Go find something, somebody else to pick on.

BAH!

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