back to article DAB lobby launches radio scrappage scheme

This weekend you can trade in your trannies and recycle your radios in exchange for money off brand spanking new digital tuners. Well, so the digital radio industry hopes, as it strives to persuade a sufficient percentage of the UK's radio-listening population to go digital. Its goal: to get into a stronger position to …


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  1. The Mighty Spang

    need more than a trade in

    who is going to pay the ongoing cost of powering the thing? digital processing costs power wheras a cheap analogue radio unit doesn't need that.

    oh. and sound quality.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will they also guarantee me a signal...?

    Because I don't have one right now in this rural area. Not long since our local Trading Standards made Tescos refund money to a lot of people they'd sold DAB radios to without telling them this.

    The whole thing's a huge scam aimed solely at selling new equipment and - given how much we USED to pay for a radio - expensive equipment at that.

  3. BongoJoe
    Thumb Down

    Er, I think that I'll wait

    I won't be taking up this offer because:

    1. The prices of sets will drop by more than 10% as they become more popular further on in time.

    2. There's no DAB here, so what am I supposed to listen to in the meantime?

  4. Christian Berger Silver badge

    I'm always amazed

    I'm always amazed how popular DAB radios are in your country. Recently I have seen a documentary on manic depression, and just there in the background was a DAB radio. I am an electrical engineer and have so far seen less than 10 DAB radios in my life. And none of those were at a home.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Tell the BBC Trust about it

    You can tell the BBC Trust about what you think on their website. It is basically to do with how are they going to reduce spending, but some of the questions are about Digital Radio.

    Just go to the Have Your Say on the proposals link. I told them all about me being worried about the environment and so on =) Oh and before you click on the link, you may want to see this Youtube video. It perfectly demonstrates how the questions are phrased!

  6. Lunatik


    Please DAB, no pissing about with 'scrappage', just DIE.

  7. Mage Silver badge

    DAB radio

    Most have FM anyway, and then the own listens on the better quality FM.

    I don't see any DAB Radio in Tesco or Currys with LW, MW, SW AM or LW, MW,SW DRM.

    Most don't do RDS and many don't do stereo!

    Many are terrible styling.

    This is almost a criminal act,

  8. Les Matthew

    How much is it going to cost me

    to get something as reliable as this?

    Almost 37 years old, used near enough every single day of those 37 years and the only fault is a broken telescopic aerial. Cost me £55 back in 1973 ish.

    Does anyone even make consumer electronics these days that will last till 2047?

    1. Havin_it

      Yeah, but

      was the subject manic-depressive before they had the DAB radio?


    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm always amazed

      Christian Berger;

      "I'm always amazed how popular DAB radios are in your country. Recently I have seen a documentary on manic depression, and just there in the background was a DAB radio."

      I think the programme you were watching was something we call "Eastenders", the BBC who make this programme place DAB receivers in scenes to persuade us that they are widely used.

  9. Ian Tunnacliffe

    Pointless pointless pointless

    See heading.

  10. Campbeltonian


    Are DAB radios sold in the UK these days generally capable of receiving DAB+? I'm not keen on buying a radio that only uses a standard that's already obsolete.

    Then again, with the BBC's plan to kill off 6 Music, I don't really see the point in upgrading at all.

  11. stucs201

    Why trade in an old radio

    I've seen new ones in Poundland, so those who really want a dab radio can get the discount and keep their old radio.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The answer to your question is no. Furthermore there are absolutely no plans to start broadcasting DAB+ in the UK. The reasoning being that there isn't the bandwidth available to broadcast both DAB and DAB+ and they don't want to replace DAB with DAB+ because that would mightilly piss of the people who have already spend money on a DAB set. Which sounds a reasonable argument unless you actually look into the claim that there is insufficient bandwidth. It's cock.

      The real reason is, I suspect, a matter of saving face. The people who made the decision for the UK to go DAB don't want to admit it was a stupid one. They don't want to admit DAB is crap. Essentially they *could* allocate some spectrum to DAB+ they could run DAB and DAB+ in parallel, but...

      The whole idea of going digital was to reduce the amount of spectrum used so they'd have a whole lot more to sell of as licensed frequencies to make even more money. Hopefully the new government can do something to cut pointless spending (squillions on management consultants for everything labour did) to the extent that they can stop using every other "public service" as a cash cow to fund it.

      1. chr0m4t1c


        The answer to his question is "yes".

        Pure (and probably others) sell DAB+ sets and have done since at least last year, but you need to check individual models as they haven't refreshed their whole range yet (e.g. the PocketDAB 1500 doesn't do it).

        As you say, though, whether or not you ever get any DAB+ stations to listen to is a different matter altogether.

  12. M7S


    Did I do something wrong?

    Walking down ths street with an offensive ITT Tranny perhaps? :)

    Exposing a minor to a Music Centre perhaps.

    The effects on the "authorities" of New Labour still linger on...

  13. Nathan 13

    Logical replacement

    Surely the logical replacement or supplement for FM/AM radio would be internet radio. DAB is already doomed right from the outset in my eyes.

  14. It wasnt me

    Why is absolutely every everyone talking such complete rot?

    What have you lot got against DAB? The quality is categorically not worse than FM. Fact. Its clear that most commenters havent even listened to one. Theoretically the quality is potentially worse at lower bit rates but you cant hear it on the radios you have dotted around the house. No-one uses FM radio for HI-FI listening, they use CDs for that. (You lot probably dont , cos vinyl is better yada yada yawn).

    The features are superb. 2 of my sets allow me to pause and rewind live radio. I never need to wait till the end of a song to hear the presenter tell me what it is, because its there on the screen. Theres no fiddling to get the dial in just the right place to the nearest 1000th of a degree to avoid crackle.

    I agree that lots of places dont have signal yet, but that will improve when you old die hards piss off from the airwaves and some bandwidth can be given over to the future.

    Just get used to it. DAB radios are great. I was given one as a gift 6 years ago, and was initially sceptical. That lasted minutes once I got one and actually listened to it. And yes, 2 of my sets are mono. But how much stereo separation do you really get on a cheap tranny? And could you really give a monkeys when youre listening to Jeremy Vine in the kitchen preparing lunch ?

    Grow up.

  15. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    Waste of time

    DAB is dead. Any successor is unlikely to arise, unless forced.

    Give me a choice between DAB and no radio and it'll be no radio. I listen to radio in the car each morning - my radio is more than powerful enough to pick up stations except in the longest of tunnels, throughout London and it's borders. DAB can't. With analogue, I either get perfect reception, quiet reception, a tolerable little hiss and/or nothing at all depending on how long the tunnel I'm driving through is. DAB gives me reception or nothing.

    I cannot look at the screen while I'm driving so any "extras" with DAB are pretty bloody pointless. You know what? I just want to turn the radio on, have it pick up the one channel I play immediately, and then turn it off when I'm finished. Analogue achieves that perfectly and I paid less than £50 for a SD / CD / MP3 / USB / Aux Input Radio that picks up MW and FM. With the two-foot whip aerial on my car, I can tune virtually anything in.

    The only other place I ever use the radio is via the Internet - it's really not worth faffing about with trying to orient / tune an old-fashioned radio any more. On the net, I get instant perfect reception (barring my wireless dropping out, ironically), I can feed it through decent speakers and I don't have to worry about "extras" - if I want to know who's singing, I'm on the Internet and it takes seconds to look up extra information.

    So DAB's purpose is to basically make me spend money in order to free up bandwidth in a frequency range that will *never* be clear (given that everybody is allowed to use those little local transmitters to put their iPod music on their car stereo, and things like RDS-TMC rely on it) and which I'll never see any benefit from. If I wanted DAB, I'd have it already. Even the people who have DAB equipment don't necessarily USE it for DAB purposes - the chances are it has dual-tuners because otherwise a huge proportion of the country wouldn't be able to use it anyway.

    You can give them away on street corners and most people would only use them for normal radio for the next decade anyway. And then when you "switchover" to digital-only, you'll see listening figures drop even more than they have in recent years.

    I honestly think it'd cheaper, easier and more reliable to actually stick a netbook in the car, with a 3G stick, and stream from the radio stations websites to my car radio. That's basically all that DAB is anyway, just on different frequencies, and if you roll your own, at least you can put in some decent buffering so that short spikes in connection won't disturb your listening.

    1. Scott Mckenzie

      "No-one uses FM radio for HI-FI listening"

      Oh dear...

      DAB have a place, but for quality broadcasts, not a hope... if you're into classical music, the quality of a Radio 3 or Classic FM broadcast on a decent, and by this I fully accept a minority of people prepared to spend 'hundreds of pounds', FM radio far surpasses that of anything on DAB. - £925

      It may change if they stop squeezing the signal to fit more and more crappy stations in, DAB isn't as good now as it was at launch! Sadly, it seems it's where we're heading though...

    2. Jimmy Floyd
      Thumb Down

      @Lee Dowling

      "DAB is dead."

      Except clearly it isn't. So the rest of your rambling diatribe can be safely ignored.

      A bit like claiming that Macs are obsolete because they form only a small percentage of personal computer sales.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I still use..

      My Lobster 'TV' phone for DAB when out and about, yeh the signal disapears when I go into the supermarket, but the sound quality on supplied phone headset is perfectly acceptable.

      Also it has allowed me to listen to the London station that I used to listen to when I lived there.

    4. Chemist

      "What have you lot got against DAB?"

      1) Unnecessary i.e. wasteful

      2) Unwanted - very definitely most people don't want to lose FM - although many don't even know that is going to happen yet

      3) All those car radios that will need changing or naff adaptors

      4) Unfair - why the hell should most people have to pay for something they already have


      5) I've just been walking in the hills with my 15 year old Roberts FM radio which weights nothing and is ~8cm * 3cm * 1cm and uses 1 AAA NiMH battery that lasts ~12 hours on one charge. Where the heck am I going to replace that ?

    5. spodula

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      Unless your in the matropolis, DAB is far worse than FM. I know, i was supid enugh to buy one of these overpriced pieces of rubbish. It works acceptably in kent, but in yorkshire, thw two stations i can recieve dont even sound as good as the FM radio in my mobile phone, never mind the one in the car. (I use kent and Yorkshire as examples, because thats the only places i have tried it)

      And Despite the promises of the stations available in my area, most are unlistenable.

      Of course, i may have made the mistake of buying a crock, cos most electronics vary in quality, but from what i have read on Teh Internets, i doubt it.

      As for your final comment, no. I have no intention of buying something on the off-chance i may get signal at some future stage. Get over it.

    6. Keris

      @It wasnt me

      "The quality is categorically not worse than FM."

      The quality IS categorically worse than FM for most of us who live outside the big cities. Fact. Drop-outs, the "boiling mud" (much harder to filter out than hiss), the occasional screech or 96dB click when bits are dropped -- and that's just on Radio 3, which has the best bandwidth. On the others the bandwidth is so low that even a 5 quid 'tranny' does better on FM.

      "Theoretically the quality is potentially worse at lower bit rates but you cant hear it on the radios you have dotted around the house."

      Yes, I can, easily. I can't help it if you have rubbish radios or faulty hearing. Low bit rates coupled with an old encoding method (MP2) are easily audible to anyone with decent hearing (and a speaker larger than a couple of inches).

      And even worse, at high bit error rates (like anywhere in my house except on the bathroom windowsill) there is the "boiling mud" (a sound like bubbling underneath the audio) which makes it completely unlistenable.

      Oh, and then there's the delay. Put 3 DAB radios of different make/model together, on the same station, and you get an interesting (although not useful) 'echo' effect because they take different times to decode the signal. And trying to set a watch by the 'pips' is useless, I have to try to guess what the delay is. (Or perhaps your watch doesn't have seconds on it -- I suppose even DAB is more accurate than a sundial...)

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What I have got against DAB is...

      "What have you lot got against DAB? The quality is categorically not worse than FM. Fact. Its clear that most commenters havent even listened to one. Theoretically the quality is potentially worse at lower bit rates but you cant hear it on the radios you have dotted around the house. No-one uses FM radio for HI-FI listening, they use CDs for that. (You lot probably dont , cos vinyl is better yada yada yawn)."

      Like many others, I have nothing against the Eureka147 standard per se, but I do have issues with the current over-politicised implemention that is DAB. (When I refer to "DAB", I mean the current UK implementation of it - rather than the E147 standard itself.)

      Bitrates have steadily fallen from early-day highs of 320kbps Full Stereo, to the current-day mean of just 96-128kbps Joint Stereo. More than a handful of stations are now 64kbps Mono. Remember that DAB uses MP2 encoding, which is approximately 1/3 less bit-efficient than the more recent MP3. (Not to mention that the pscho-acoustic model is now decidedly old-hat.)

      FM gives true stereo (not JS), and with the MPX pilot at 19kHz - it gives a very good audio bandwidth. Performance under extremes of multipath noise, adjacent channel interference, and limit of sensitivity are far more acceptable to the listener using FM.

      Pound-for-pound, FM sounds far superior to DAB - a 50 quid FM receiver will categorically blow a similarly-priced DAB model out of the water. I say that having spent many months listening to both objectively in controlled environments.

      "The features are superb. 2 of my sets allow me to pause and rewind live radio. I never need to wait till the end of a song to hear the presenter tell me what it is, because its there on the screen."

      Hmm. It's a radio - you know, for listening to music and stuff on?

      When you start using "Value Added Features" such as pause/rewind or DLS text (not that different to RDS) to justify your higher expenditure - just exactly who do you think you're kidding?

      "Theres no fiddling to get the dial in just the right place to the nearest 1000th of a degree to avoid crackle."

      Three words for you - Phased Locked Loop (PLL).

      You'll find that all half-decent FM receivers made in the last 30 years have one.

      "I agree that lots of places dont have signal yet, but that will improve when you old die hards piss off from the airwaves and some bandwidth can be given over to the future."

      No, no it won't.

      FM uses Band II (87.5 - 108MHz), whereas DAB uses Band III (174.928 - 239.200MHz).

      There are 41 channels (5A - 13F) for DAB in Band III - but even in metropolitan areas you'll be lucky to receive half-a-dozen multiplexes.

      Why? Because nobody is transmitting, and it's certainly not down to lack of available spectrum. It's down to lack of audience (hence commercial interest) - quite simply, nobody is listening...

  16. ShaggyDoggy

    No to dab


    It's not public wants driving this, it's not even the broadcasters, it's not technical innovation, it's political.


  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The environment...

    From the BBC story:

    "Those beyond repair will be recycled under the government's Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive, aimed at reducing the amount of electrical and electronic equipment produced."

    Which is quite the biggest load of crappy spin I've seen since Labour's election manifesto. They are trying to wrap this up as some sort of environmental crusade, even though DAB radios use much for energy than good old analogue. But the worst bit is that they talk about a scheme that encourages us to buy new electrical equipment as a means to reduce the production of new electrical equipment. Priceless.

  18. JPL

    Car Radios & RDS/Traffic Info

    The time to switch off FM is 15 years after car manufacturers stop installing FM radios in cars.

  19. LuMan

    Poor percentage

    So, with DAB radios costing less than £20 now a measley 10% won't even buy a decent set of batteries to power it! I think this scrappage plan may have every best intention, but appears to be flawed - unless you spend 100-odd quid on a radio.

    I like the idea of DAB, so long as quality is guranteed, but I think I'll hang on to my trusty 15-year-old Philips that has, so far, been running flawlessly on a set of Duracells I stuffed into it about 6 years ago!!

  20. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    I thought this was about scrapping DAB

    I had really hoped to read an article about scrapping DAB. Oh well....

  21. Peter Storm

    DAB? Forget it.

    I was given a DAB radio a year or so ago. At first I was quite pleased with the prospect of listening to the new stations. Then I turned it on. I can only get one station inside my house, and I live in a good reception area. It's pants!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Car Scrappage?

    They are claiming that this is modelled on the car scrappage scheme. In what way?

    The car scrappage scheme guaranteed you two grand if you were trading in a car that was at least ten years old and that you had owned for at least a year against a brand spanking new car. The idea supposedly being that it would encourage and help people to buy a new car who wouldn't otherwise buy a new car, thus helping out the automotive trade. The ten year limit being there to stop people who would already be likely to buy a new car from benefitting. Being entirely fair however, the grand contributed by wouldn't even cover the VAT on a new car so it wasn't like they were really giving anyone any money. They did put a bit of environmental spin on it by claiming that old cars pollute much more than new ones, but did not take into account the pollution caused by building the new car and scrapping the old car.

    OTOH I see no similarities with this radio scrappage scheme. In this case I see no mention of a government contribution. It seems that the discount will depend on what you're buying, reading between the lines that presumably means spend more money get more discount.

    The idea of reconditioning radios and giving them to African kids is of itself confusing. How much would it cost to "recondition" (presumably quality check) a radio? How much does it cost to manufacture a cheap FM radio? The environmental impact you say? Well how about this: Set up factories in Africa manufacturing cheap wind up FM sets. Economically good for the locals because it creates jobs. The radios go to the locals, but they can also sell them abroad. And the radios cause no further environmental damage because they don't rely on mains or batteries.

    A mere 10% to 20% discount? So you want a new radio, your old tranny is on its last legs. You pop down to Argos and see you can trade in your old radio for £3 against a £30 DAB radio. Great. Then you notice you could buy a new FM tranny for under a tenner. Who's going to go for the DAB?

    As for car units the prices tend to be well over £100 even for a cheap unit. Who cares if you can get £10 or more off the price? It's still a huge amount of money to pay to replace something that doesn't *need* replacing.

    The car scheme worked to an extent on the basis of greed and pride. Running round in a crappy old car? The scheme made that worth enough to put down a hefty deposit on a brand spanking new motor. A lot of people who had never had a new car were going to be attracted by that. A new car on a new plate when your neighbours had a stinking old 56 plate! Where are the bragging rights of having a DAB radio in the kitchen? There are, however, no figures to show how many people have been trapped in a debt spiral by signing up to the car scrappage scheme. How many people who used to have a servicable ten year old car now have no car at all because they couldn't keep up the payments on the new one?

    Sorry, it may be a lingering tendency towards socialism, but I just don't see the benefit of any scheme that encourages people to spend money that they don't actually *need* to spend.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DAB == dead duck

    As a chartered engineer who worked (note tense!) in DAB (on both Tx and Rx sides) for the best part of ten years, I'd like to think that I can speak with a certain authority on these matters.

    A couple of salient points that nobody seems to mention:

    Company "R" designed, supplied, and maintained the encoding infrastructure (Musicams, Muxes, etc) for the majority of the UK multiplexes, and went into receivership early last year - the company valuation dropped from £37M to £400k in just a year or two.

    (Company "R" also designed and manufactured around a third of the OEM Rx modules currently used in UK receivers, although this side of the business is now totally defunct.)

    Company "N" operated the majority of commercial UK multiplexes ran into similar financial difficulties the year before that - requiring a massive bail-out, restructuring, and substantial propping up.

    What does that tell you about the long-term viability of DAB?!

    AC, for obvious reasons...

  24. Anonymous Coward

    To Dab or not to Dab

    I bought my hi-fi system in 1977, it still works and I'm used to the sound. Can anyone give me one good reason why I should replace my wonderful FM stereo receiver that will probably still be working well after I die.

    Digital radio signal still has to be converted to analogue to power my speakers, what's the point in the circuitry and additional power consumption needed to do that.

    it's common knowledge that young people who listen to MP3 -based music are listening to poor quality reproduction and actually prefer it , it's what they used to and this is the generation that will be utilising DAB radio in the future.

    It's also common knowledge that DAB radios require more power to run than an FM radio and portable Dab radios consume more batteries than an FM version which flies in the face of government targets to reduce carbon emissions, pretty dumb really.

  25. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Already scrapped mine

    chucked out my £75 Dab radio - I gave it to someone who has put it in his garden shed. It was just awful - fm just hisses a bit when the signal drops or is interrupted - dab either sounds like shit gurgling down a drain or cracks and pops and attempt to blow up my very expensive HiFi. The man in the shop lent me a top of the range one to try - that was even worse.

    I have a problem with people trying to generate a revenue stream with a piece of new technology but when its worse than the thing its replacing that's just called theft.

  26. Christopher Slater-Walker

    So who do we write to?

    I was hoping that our new masters in the coalition government might see though all the "digital is best" BS generated by the last lot but my hope is getting more threadbare by the day.

    Is there someone we can write to in government to let them know that:

    1. DAB in the UK is an ancient (in technology terms) system, and is already obsolete;

    2. It is not in any way environmentally friendly to (a) force people to throw out perfectly good receivers and (b) force people to consume lots more power/batteries to receive what they could already get on their old receivers.

    3. While I understand that on low-end equipment, any perceived difference in sound quality is likely to be small to indistinguishable, for those who are concerned with overall quality, DAB is rather poorer than conventional FM.

    4. DAB coverage is far complete, when compared with viable FM coverage.

    5. DAB reception is all or nothing; it either works or it doesn't. FM reception degrades proportionally with the strength of the received signal, meaning that it's a much more viable option for mobile receivers (i.e. in your car), especially when considered alongside my point 4 above.

    Add your own favourite argument here as well.


  27. Ian Ferguson


    I can buy a FM radio in Poundland. The cheapest DAB radios still seem to be about £50.

    Any content that I can't get on FM, I can get through the internet or Freeview. (eg. 6Music)


  28. Nigel R

    car's where it at (NOT)

    Since I can get Internet radio at home I've no incentive to buy a 2nd DAB radio. Have discovered that though DAB works nicely in the bedroom, it does not on the ground floor of the house. I live in Reading.

    If my car maker were to offer a decent replacement head unit (proprietary - no chance in my car fitting a standard one) with an effective DAB (with DAB+ compatibility for Europe) aerial very neatly integrated and fitted to the car at under £200 I'd still be sorely tempted. Spend too much time in the car and analogue won't offer the choice I want.

    Just a sad fact that no carmaker wants to offer retrofit (proprietary ) head units at a realistic price, if at all.

  29. Nosher

    So is HD TV a "failure" too?

    Actually, according to RAJAR figures, the number of households with DAB radios is "over one third". The number with HD TVs (including those with HD-ready TVs but without an HD service, which is arguably comparable to those with DAB radios who only listen to FM) is around 40%, so in your measured opinion does that make HD TV a failure too?

    1. David Beck

      The answer would be "no" since the two are not comparable

      HD-TV does not replace SD-TV. The intention of DAB is to replace FM.

      What is comparable is digital terrestrial TV (DVB-T) replacing analogue TV, a process still happening but generally accepted to be beneficial to the consumer.

      If the radio industry can provide DAB adapters in the same range of proportional cost as the Freeview receivers and TV's (assuming a decent FM portable is £40, the adapter should cost no more than £4 and be portable) and; can provide the same proportion of new content as Freeview vs Analogue (5 analogue TV channels vs 50 digital TV channels plus 24 radio channels) then there is a chance that DAB, even the out dated version chosen by the experts for the UK, might have some justification. Otherwise, DAB as currently touted in the UK, is technically outmoded, poorly sourced, thinly spread and over-priced. Encouraging it a dis-service to the general public and a number of the statements made by it's proponents about the need, quality, availability of content and cost to operate verge on the fraudulent.

      Strongly worded letter follows.

  30. James Pickett

    Monkey say

    “could you really give a monkeys when you're listening to Jeremy Vine in the kitchen preparing lunch”

    I wouldn’t listen to Jeremy Vine if you paid me, but I do have decent radio in my kitchen, fed through a nice little 2.1 system to improve the bass and separation, and it sounds fine on FM. My objection to DAB isn’t that I mind people with cloth ears having one, but I mind very much being told that I have to have one too, and that ultimately I won’t be able to use the 7 or 8 FM radios currently dotted around my house and vehicles.

    We needed a new portable recently, and I found a decent tranny with FM and LW, running off D-cells (which will probably last a year) for £10.

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