back to article Radio lobby 'hides' 2m analogue receiver sales

Maybe the Great Digital Switchover won't be so difficult, after all. The UK's digital radio lobby group has redefined what an analogue radio is, giving DAB a stunning boost in market share. You'll recall that in the Digital Britain report last summer, Lord Carter recommended that when digital listening (mostly on DAB radios) …


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  1. Bod

    Why I wont switch

    My 2008 reg car has an neatly integrated FM/RDS radio with information on the head up display and controls in the steering wheel.

    Unless they can provide a replacement for this that works exactly the same without having to use FM transmitter gadgets, external controls, something glued to the dashboard in a tacky manner, and looks straight from the nearest Essex Bling Shop for chaved up Novas, they can shove it.

    Aside from that, FM is perfectly fine in the car, and I already use digital at home and work via Satellite and Internet Radio so have no need for crappy low bitrate over compressed DAB with its spotty reception.

  2. Jelliphiish

    i read

    that as 'the lords have backed an analogy scrapage scheme'

    that'd be like.. oh wait..

    1. Anonymous Hero

      re: Why I wont switch

      Yep..I have a nice Blaupunkt DAB head unit in my old scooby legacy but I'm reluctant to transplant it into my 11 year old Saab 93 because it'll ruin the look of the dashboard, even if done by my local auto-radio shop. And you're right about these external FM gadgets, they look crap and never quite deliver.

  3. Wize

    But DAB doesn't work...

    I could list the many reasons I've ranted at before, but I just don't have the energy.

  4. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!

    "so hold on to your trannies"

    Say WHAT??

    Oh.... transistor radios..... phew....

  5. Tom Mason

    I can see why...

    you'd ignore analogue FM radios in PMPs and phones. I've never been able to get mine to work. Besides, they're a "me too" feature rather than a selling point. Where a product contains a radio which is almost never actually used then it seems silly to include it in the figures to prevent the switchover. Having said that, I've yet to see a reasonably sized (i.e. small) DAB radio. Until DAB radios can challenge the size of an FM radio you can't switch off the FM signal.

  6. Michael 36

    Long wave

    Anyone know what the plan is for longwave? We use it to obtain shipping forecasts beyond (what I assume) the range of DAB.

  7. Chris Cartledge

    Criteria wrong!

    Living in a large village, 10miles (16km) from the centre of Sheffield, there is no DAB radio here and no date for its availability. Apparently BBC DAB currently reaches less than 85% of the UK population and the target is only 90%. Switching off analogues services should surely not be an option until DAB coverage at least matches analogue provision..

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Just because something has a radio it doesn't mean it is going to be used!

    I don't know anyone who listens to radio on a mobile or a mp3 player. The reception is usually rubbish anyway.

  9. Marvin the Martian

    Switch over now, for all I care.

    I keep getting radios for free with other stuff, analogue ones, yet I haven't listened to radio in 7 years. So is it fair to count those towards making a decision about what the plebs wants? Yes, a mate's car radio has occasionally played (and annoyed me with its jingles), but switch off analogue and he'd have played mp3s or cds.

    I think they are right to a large extend in discounting piggybacking, unwanted radios from mobiles and so forth.

  10. Pete 2 Silver badge

    It's not the punters you have to persuade

    It's the manufacturers.

    Once they stop trying to promote DIGITAL as if it's some sort of feature (instead of just a stealthy way of reducing the quality to the listener) and just make DAB the standard component in products that people buy - which now just happen to contain an FM receiver, then the problem just goes away. Let's face it. Hardly anyone goes out to buy a radio. We buy products that have a radio embedded: whether it's a radio/alarm, a gadget where radio is just a tick-box item or as part of an integrated music appliance. Just get the producers of these things to toss out the old, analog circuitry and replace it with an equivalent digital wotsit.

    With luck, none of the buyers will notice it's digital and will ascribe the poorer audio quality to something else: like tinny speakers or their own inadequacies. That's the way to get DAB adoopted: sneakily, rather than going head-to-head with the established and better alternatives.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this unreasonable

    After all how many people buying these "radios" are actually conciously intending to acquire a radio. From my experience of the FM tuners on phones and MP3 players fall into to the category of "nice to have it as its there" but then rapidly after trying to use it turns into "doesn't really work but I wasn't buying a radio so what". (N..b. I have an FM tuner on my DAB personal radio ... FM reception is cr*p but the DAB is great)

    1. gerryg

      Perhaps you are not looking?

      I used the radio in my Nokia 5800 yesterday evening while on a long train journey back into London. And I'd like to see that happen on a DAB device. I'd need a rucksack for the battery. That's why my all singing all dancing digital device (the one that plays back digitally encoded videos) puts an analogue radio in there.

      In a bit of reverse thinking, perhaps we could discount all the DAB radios included in radio alarm clocks, because the inclusion is only a sales feature?

      1. AF

        Think about the reverse thinking

        Well, no, you wouldn't discount clock radios, because anyone who didn't want the radio aspect of a clock radio would simply buy a clock. Therefore clock radios should be counted as they have been bought by people specifically for the radio.

        1. TeeCee Gold badge
          Thumb Down

          Not so.

          I bought a clock radio a while back. I've never used the radio bit as I wanted a clock.

          Many years ago, I had a mains powered electric[1] alarm clock. It was a "Westclox" product IIRC. Try finding one now at a sensible price that doesn't have a bloody radio built into it.

          [1] i.e. one that wakes me up without my having to remember to wind it or change the batteries[2].

          [2] I'd settle for a battery powered one if it provided some indication of the battery state rather than just giving me an unexpected lie-in once in a while[3].

          [3] i.e. whenever it's seriously bloody important that I be up on time. c.f. Sod's Law.

      2. Bod

        Internet Radio

        My Nokia has the Internet Radio app, so going into the Radio app now I get the choice between FM and Internet Radio. The latter allows me to stream from 10s of thousands or more radio stations around the world, and still likely in better quality than DAB. Though okay I have to use data for it or find a WiFi connection. I'd still rather do that than bother with DAB which limits me to a handful of crummy channels in the UK. DAB on mobiles is pointless.

    2. gerryg

      See above

      I use the radio in my phone all the time.

    3. gerryg

      Is it only the DAB radio industry replying to this article?

      I have an FM tuner in my phone, it's great. I have an FM tuner in my MP3 player, it's great.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Shipping Forecast

      Didn't I read somewhere that aunty is dropping the shipping forecasts anyway?

    5. david bates


      Lack of FM radio is a deal-breaker on MP3 players for me. One got returned only a few months ago for the FM being poor. Lack of radio was also one of the (many) things I heartily disliked about the iPod I sold last year.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Say's who?

      Sorry, mate, but it was the item that tipped the deal on my phone. There are many areas with no dab, no 3G and no wifi, but great AM/FM reception.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Me too?

      I specifically purchased an MP3 player that had a FM radio built in.

      Because I want to be able to listen to the radio on it (so why buy two devices)

      Unless the Market research compny actually put some effort into checking usage, they shouldn't discount the radio in these devices - if they'd got some figures that said 99% of people with these don't use the radio then they could discount the numbers.

    8. Anonymous Coward

      Typical politicians !!!!

      I specifically looked for a phone and a media player with FM radio when I bought my HTC and Sansa.

      I bet if phones/media players include a DAB radio they would want to include those numbers ???

      Typical politicians f'in with the number to suit there needs.

      So what, basically anything that isn't a kitchen radio isn't a radio anymore? 'course, unless it is DAB in which case it counts!!

    9. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Not only... I listen to analogue radio, I even listen to it on my pocket DAB receiver. I get about 3-4 hours of DAB or 30+ hours of analogue out of a pair of AA's.

      If my local commercial FM station had not just fallen foul of the receivers last week, I would even claim that not having local radio on DAB was a reason to stay analogue.

      Reception is a poor comparison as DAB reception is pretty poor for people who live more than 5 miles outside of a town regardless of what you listen to it on.

    10. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      You don't have to care, but I do.

      Sounds like your mate is also in line for paying TomTom or someone else for traffic updates which can be got for free from local radio.

      There's more reason to listen to radio than to drown out the engine noise!

      One wonders when they intend to count digital radio on Freeview boxes in the future. Would enable them to easily meet their targets!

      BTW, if you are a not a radio listener, WTF are you doing commenting, or even reading the article. You self admit that you are not an interested party, go somewhere else to rant!

    11. Bod

      Works fine

      FM on my Nokia works fine and sounds great. I don't use it much but there are occasions where I have. It's a bonus too for geeks like me who go to airshows and they have live radio commentary.

  12. Andy Livingstone

    Damn and Blast

    DAB = that or Dump and Burn.

    Why can't Government back off and leave things alone.

    As for GfK NOP, have you seen the volume of complaints on the net about their unwanted phone calls? They don't call me any more since I asked for 10 guineas to answer each question - payable in advance. Seemed fair as they get paid for the results.

    Oh and yes, I am content to use guineas, shillings, and even metres.......of the 208 variety.

    Sod progress and Nanny McBroon.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    what's the point?

    Like @Bod, I've got a new car, with a premium integrated FM/RDS tuner and GPS system, which also supplies traffic information received over FM.

    I'm completely p'd off that the government wants to obsolete this technology for no apparently good reason other than to promote the digital alternative. It's not as if the 100 MHz spectrum is much use for anything else!

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Enforced obsolescence

    This monstrous scam just proves that the goverment are behaving like a bunch of crooks who want to force the whole nation to buy digital radios using the inferior and obsolete DAB system (as opposed to DAB+ which might just be acceptable as a standard) and throw away their vast numbers of perfectly good radios if they just want to listen to BBC network radio. Words almost fail to describe how bad this is.

  15. Winkypop Silver badge


    Who listens to the radio?

  16. Gary Myers

    BBC claim 2015 switch-off

    The BBC are already claiming a 2015 switch off:

    Do they know something we don't?

    And what of the new Digital Radio Mondial? You won't be able to receive it until Ofcom clears up the PLT mess. Oh, and you might not be able to pick up DAB soon as Belkin have launched a 1Gbps PLT device which wipes out everything to 300MHz!

    1. Zimmer

      Who listens!!!!, my mum and many many others who like ball by ball cricket commentary on TMS. Also footie on Saturday (radio 5) whilst in the car (and DAB does not play nice in a moving vehicle, apparently, not that I could afford to buy a new car just to get a new DAB radio in it :) or could the Lords set up another car scrapage scheme for cars with the wrong sort of radio...)

      Tried a DAB radio at mum's BTW, could not even get a signal and she is 30 miles from Central London !!!

      Down with DAB

  17. Jonathan Carlaw


    This is not entirely an unfair thing to do - I certainly do not use the radio which is built into my phone, and the presence of a radio was not part of my criteria for getting that phone - I was buying a phone, not an analogue radio.

    I am sure many here woudl regard it as very dodgy marketing if MS were to claim 100% of Windows PC uses 'bought' IE,to offer a possible similar claim!

  18. AF

    letters and/or digits

    Well, it does make sense in a way - people buying stand-alone radios are specifically buying a stand-alone radio, so they are only interested in using it as a radio. There's no confusion. The same can't be said about all the other things which come with an FM radio built-in for "added value" - how many iPod Nano buyers ONLY bought a Nano because it had an FM radio in it, and wouldn't have bought it if it had no radio (or a DAB radio)? Some, but not many, I suspect. Same thing with cars - how many drivers bought an Octavia simply because it can pick up The Archers?

    Only counting stand-alone radio sales, whilst not the whole picture, is quite clear-cut and can be measured year-on-year - the same thing can't be done with portable devices (iPods didn't have radios two years ago, for example).

  19. Mark Aggleton


    Well - I can't recieve DAB or Analogue at home at all so I hope the scrappage allows for full cost. I've got a Pure anyone's welcome to. So Sky it is for me - just wish I could find my Gnome.

  20. Eponymous Cowherd

    Taking off like a lead balloon.

    With almost all car radios currently sold (including those immovably built into new vehicles) being Analogue FM jobbies.

    Something like 20% of all radio listening is in the car, but only 1% of car receivers sold are digital ready.

  21. LinkOfHyrule

    "ghetto blasters"

    Good to see you kicking it oldskool with that terminology Mr Orlowski!

    Joking aside, internet radio, on demand play-list services and podcasts will probably take over "radio listening" in the traditional sense before they can turn off analogue anyway. These radio people need to get with the times! Also FM kicks DAB's low bitrate butt!

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Rant about the cost of all this progress

    Thanks for reminding me about another 3 FM radios in my household (3 adults!) that I missed in my morning count of how much an FM switch off in 2015 would cost - I thought that it was only 9!

    So that's two car radios at £150 each (rather not have some kind of clunky adaptor, ta very much)

    Two alarm clock radios at £40 each

    One portable radio at £40

    Two old radios in kitchen and shed at £40 each

    A tuner on the Hifi at £250 to match the rest of the kit

    A cheapy mp3 style player at £50

    That's £800!, and all I want to to do is listen to the BBC national channels!!!

    And I forgot 3 phones with FM radios- and as far as I can see there are zero phones available with DAB. Good thing i will probably break or lose my phone before 2015.

    I'm all for progress but ...

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    "so hold on to your trannies" .

    AC as I'm obviously on the wrong wavelength (or just picking up the wrong type of signals).

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Replacement Car Radios

      £150 to replace a car radio? You'll be lucky. In the days of the old slot-in head units you might have got away with £250, but not any more.

      I've just received a quotation of £700+ to add a USB input to the audio in my (new-ish) car. Most of this amount is labour. This is partly down to the extraordinary rapacity of BMW dealers, but it also reflects the way radios in recent cars are integrated. I'd guess a replacement DAB radio in the car would cost at least a grand.

      I actually listen to DAB at home because none of the crappy portable FM sets I've owned would stay in tune. The low bitrate isn't a problem because it's coming out of a 3-inch speaker in a plastic box, so I'm not expecting much. But all the in-car FM sets I've owned have been excellent.

      Incidentally, if FM radios in phones and MP3 players are discounted because they're not intrinsic to the function of the device, doesn't the same argument apply to car radios?

    2. David Beck

      Running costs?

      Those are just the replacement costs. With DAB requiring a bucket full of power you need to consider the running costs. You need to budget in at least a quad multiplier for batteries for the portable units (not much chance we will see an iPhone with a DAB chip in it, unless Apple make a special one with a car battery attached).

      Are we watching the death of a medium? If I lose local news and traffic (including TMC) I won't have much need of any "radio" DAB or otherwise. I certainly would not buy DAB today given the poor reception here in Oxfordshire (loose talk in the pub) and lack of a local station anyway, but if they can match the content, the quality and the power consumption of FM I'd certainly give it a chance.

    3. David Beck


      Since I generally listen to radio for news, esp. local news, I doubt a "podcast" is going to be of much use.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Excluded radios

    "...excluded everything that wasn't a kitchen radio. FM radios fitted in cars, ghetto blasters and so on were conveniently forgotten."

    I wonder when they came to that 75% number if they excluded DAB radios too that were fitted into cars or ghetto blasters etc. Somehow I doubt it.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do they...

    Work out what share of listening is done on what sort of device? After all the plan is to begin the digital switchover when 50% of listening is done on digitial devices* How do sales figures help measure this? Knowing how many devices have been sold doesn't even begin to tell you how many analgue and digital devices are in use at any given time. How many DAB radios have been bought and aren't used? How many digital radio capable devices like STBs or indeed PCs are out there that have never been used to listen to radio?

    Let's be straight about this; they haven't got a clue how many analogue or digital radio devices are in use. They haven't got a clue how to go about measuring it either. Or to look at it another way, by 2015 they will have worked out a way of counting that show that the 50% threshold has been passed.

    * And for once can commentards please avoid the assumption that digital=DAB. Other digital radio devices are available.

  26. Buzzby
    Thumb Down

    Dab Crap

    When it comes to reading about the sales, quality etc of dab radio the last people I would listen to is the idiot PR's waffle.

    I am far more inclines to listen to people who use it, tried to use it.

    Nothing like a cheap fix eh?

  27. TWB



    'I keep getting radios for free with other stuff, analogue ones, yet I haven't listened to radio in 7 years' - so? - some of us listen to the radio all the time.

    @Pete 2

    'Once they stop trying to promote DIGITAL as if it's some sort of feature (instead of just a stealthy way of reducing the quality to the listener) and just make DAB the standard component in products that people buy - which now just happen to contain an FM receiver, then the problem just goes away. Let's face it. Hardly anyone goes out to buy a radio.' - I agree with your first sentence, but not your bit in brackets - quality may be worse, but that is a by product of cramming more and more stations in the bandwidth. I do go out to buy radios - I research and find ones with good reviews and then make sure they function well - if the controls are fiddly I don't buy them.

    I suspect too many non-Radio 4 listeners here.....

  28. alphaxion

    title this

    I don't listen to radio outside of internet based community shows.

    My radio alarm clock is always tuned into static and volume jacked up as music would only keep me asleep. Full blast wall of noise on a morning wakes me up, having it on the other side of the room gets me out of bed. Will there be a DAB static channel to replace that functionality?

  29. Chris Green
    Thumb Down

    Waste? Spend? = Bankrupt, Again

    You buy a lemon, I count you in. You buy an orange, I Ignore you.

    The argument that phones and so on should not be counted, can also be used the other way...just because someone has bought a DAB radio, it doesn't mean it's used!

    I believe the Germans dumped the DAB idea last year, because their electorate said they were crap.

    Just when they want us to trust them, they leave their slime on the statistics again!

    Politicians are completely untrustworthy and prove it, endlessly.

    They say:

    Think Green, produce less waste, recycle...except when we tell you to throw away millions of serviceable units and replace them with new units that don't work as well.

    Lets go spend millions of pounds that we don't have, so China grow their cash pile.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Damn Right

      Just because a device has DAB capabilities doesn't mean it's used for that. Too damn right.

      Most DAB receivers also have FM capabilities. I think the radio lobby would be amazed by the number of DAB receivers out there which are permanently on FM.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stop worrying...

    ...I'll give it 2 or 3 years, and they'll be giving DAB radios away in desperation. You'll probably get one free with your cornflakes...

    And unless you very lucky, it still won't be a ha'porth of use...


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