back to article Are plasma TVs killing radio?

The Radio Society of Great Britain is asking anyone with a plasma TV to let it know if they‘ve had trouble getting Radio 4 lately. The Radio Society of Great Britain represents the radio ham community, though it sees itself as having a wider remit. When not organising competitions to see who has the biggest beard can transmit …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    Haven't noticed

    Haven't noticed anything from the plasma to interfere with the radio, but my microwave is plotting with the dishwasher, and i have believe the toaster is involved somehow.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I noticed this last time you posted a story which mentioned radio amateurs. What is it with you and beards?

    Does Bill Ray have a beard fetish? I think we should be told.


    1. Brian Morrison
      Thumb Up


      ....I'm a radio amateur, and I also happen to have a beard although I'll admit that I got my licence before I grew my beard.

      Excellent devices beards, for some reason some people don't like them so I can be annoying without any effort at all!

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Beard licence

        "...I also happen to have a beard although I'll admit that I got my licence before I grew my beard."

        You need a licence for a beard? Good thing I got rid of mine then.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Excellent devices indeed

        Great for catching unwanted food and an easily-seen indication of who has no mates.

        1. Brian Morrison

          No mates?

          No, I have friends all over the world, just none in this country.

          With apologies to those that have heard too much of Tony Hancock.

        2. Anonymous Coward


          As well as upsetting the Google and Apple fanbois it seems I have now upset the Bearded Peoples' Front.

      3. Byles

        Radiation Absorbing Device

        Beards; excellent for absorbing all that radiation. Although, I suppose that would also limit the range of your signal :(

  3. richard 69

    2 questions

    1 who the fuck is listening to radio 4?

    2 who the fuck is using a plasma?

    3 where's my banana?

    1. Geoff Campbell
      Thumb Up

      Radio 4 has over a million regular listeners.

      Including me. They carry a lot of intelligent and thought-provoking programmes, and some excellent comedy and drama, too. And the Archers, but I can forgive them that particular long-running aberation in light of the other programmes.


      1. Brian Morrison
        Thumb Down

        Quite agree!

        Radio 4 has much to recommend it, whereas the content of much that is show on a (plasma) TV is rather less educational.

      2. TeeCee Gold badge

        @Geoff Campbell

        " light of the other programmes."

        Ah yes, the BBC Light Programme. I've heard of that.......

        1. Geoff Campbell


          Heh :-)


    2. Stanislaw

      That's three questions

      Can't help you with (2) or (3) but if you want to hear broadcast science journalism that won't have you screaming obscenities at the ill-informed nitwits who substitute for experts on other media, then Radio 4 is the place to go. Leading Edge and Material World are excellent. Give 'em a try.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: 2 questions

      That's three questions.

      A1, People that don't want to listen to the dribbling meida luvie morons that occupy Radio1.

      A2, erm...lots of people.

      A3, Who the fuck cares?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Radio 4 listener reporting in...

      Radio 4 was one of the pleasures I missed most when I moved overseas. Thanks to technological developments I found that I could listen to it from time to time when no one was watching telly courtesy of Sky, then later I could listen with my notebook, courtesy of teh internets, and now I have an Android phone I can listen to podcasts of their best programmes* anywhere I can find a network, courtesy of Google Listen and BBC Browsecast (which is not affiliated with the BBC).

      So count me as another listener.

      *subject to rights limitations for overseas distribution. Podcasts I can subscribe to contain no drama (apart from The Archers) and severely abbreviated music.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sign me up.

      Another Radio 4 Listener here.

    6. LinkOfHyrule

      I listen somtimes!

      I love that weird thingy they do where they go on about "Dogging" and "German bite" and how its either falling or "Rising".

      Not sure what it's for, I'm guessing its for either kinky people or sailors!

    7. Anonymous Coward

      Re: 2 questions

      1 who the fuck is listening to radio 4?

      I used to. Since it was the only English language channel on the dial here in Malaysia. Now I listen to Eurobeat CDs since I wised up and realized that the source of my depression and suicidal tendencies was from all the Dickey Lee songs they played on the channel (good thing the Radio 4 in other countries sensibly ban Dickey Lee songs from airplay).

      2 who the fuck is using a plasma?

      The Indio-Muslim ("Mamak") restaurant down the street?

      3 where's my banana?

      It's behind the fridge.

  4. Code Monkey

    It's the 80s all over again

    My ZX Spectrum used to play hell with Radio 1 when it was on Medium Wave.

  5. Brian Morrison
    Thumb Down

    There have been,,,,

    ... quite a few instances of serious interference from plasma TV sets to the HF spectrum reported within the amateur radio community.

    In some of those cases the manufacturers of the TVs have ended up replacing the entire device with a different model due to their failure to modify the original device to reduce the spurious emissions below the regulatory limits. Quite how they ever came to have CE certification is not clear, but the astonishing amount of crud they radiated was.

    Not sure if plasma is an expanding market sector or whether LCD and LED screens will have killed them off soon.

    1. Albert Gonzalez
      Big Brother

      CE Tagging

      The CE tag is _self issued_, meanig that you as a manufacturer had done all the ccontrols and measurements to assure it.

      If you've not done it, you're obliously lying, and emmiting a false certificate, so you can be prosecuted.

      Here in Catalunya (Spain), the ploice checks from time to time the documentation of the wares sold, and there is a very simple mechanism for the user to complain. Once there is a complaint a full review and/or test must be made. If the manufacturar/importer is found guilty, all the affected wares are retired from the market and a fine imposed.

      Has been done with toys, electronic devices, foods, etc.

      2 cents on CE procedures.

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

        One up for Spain!

        I didn't know that about Spain. I am in the very unfortunate position of still not knowing much about the way things here work. In the UK, you would have to complain to your local trading standards people. They may decide to do something or not, but even if they do, you don't tend to get anything done in general (you may just get a refund on your own unit).

        It should be easy to implement this; it should be simple to ask any company placing things on the market to provide the proof that they have for their CE compliance. My previous employer had full test reports for everything placed on the market, for example (although they needed them for the additional BEAB and UL approvals).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bring back the ZX Spectrum ...

      ... and put paid to the inane prattle of Radio 5 for good.

      1. Code Monkey

        Apart from the sport, I agree

        It's good at sport, rubbish at everything else. I've really no interest in what the "Great British Public" has to say about anything. And if their phone-ins are anything to go by the country's full of knuckle-scrapers from Dagenham who blame immigration for everything.

    3. Geoff Campbell

      Ah, memories....

      I recall reading that one of the very early bits of seriously impressive hacking at one of the west coast USA home-brew computer clubs involved putting a computer next to a radio, and playing tunes with the interference by varying the instructions the CPU was executing.

      From "Fire in the Valley", a very good read for those of a certain age.


  6. Annihilator

    Utter, utter fail

    They're actually asking for evidence and indirectly ignoring the negative results?? This is like going out and asking for examples of X & Y coinciding and concluding that X causes Y, without looking for examples of (X & ¬Y), or (¬X & Y). Say hello to confirmation bias.

    Question though - how does a 10 or 30 MHz "hum" interfere with radio transmitting at ~95MHz?

    1. Brian Morrison

      Negative results?

      What, you mean those TVs that comply with the EMC regulations? We'd be happy with more of that sort of result.

      The point is that a number of plasma TV models have been shown to be effectively unscreened and the manufacturers have not been able to cure them when complaints have been made. Can't see how they pass their CE testing.

      If a plasma TV is radiating above the stated EMC limits, it's a potential problem even if it isn't interfering with Radio 4. I somehow think that Bill is using Radio 4 as a tongue in cheek reference, the actual problem can be interference anywhere up to 100MHz or so, so might affect R4 but is more likely to affect other users of that spectrum.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      Its called wave harmonics

      10 MHz also radiate at 10, 20, 30, 40, 90 etc 30 MHz radiate at 60, 90, 120 etc MHz - unless adequately filtered.

    3. Anonymous Hero

      RE: Utter, utter fail

      "Question though - how does a 10 or 30 MHz "hum" interfere with radio transmitting at ~95MHz?"


    4. Steve X

      Who mentioned 10, 30 or 95 MHz?

      It's a basic scientific rule that you can't prove a negative, so "ignoring the negative results" is a somewhat pointless comment. They need to look at *all* the results, and decide if the positive ones make a statistically significant problem. To do that they're looking for cases of interference, which can be correlated with the numbers of plasma TVs in use. A million TVs sold and 10 complaints, probably no issue. 1000 complaints, there's possibly a problem.

      As to the interference itself, the power supplies alone in most modern equipment run at 48-96 kHz, generating large amounts of hash that has to be filtered. Plasma TVs with their '100Hz' frame refresh rates and 1080-line displays are going to generate many more harmonics, since they're essentially boxed spark transmitters! Unlikely to interfere with R4 at 95MHz, but mainly because that is FM which is significantly less senstive to amplitude-based interference than AM. A poorly-designed plasma TV has significant capacity to wipe out amplitude-modulated signals below 30MHz, where nmost such signals live (commercial and professional, as well as amateur).including R4 long wave, of course.

      1. Annihilator


        ...for clearing up the harmonics issue (incidentally, my 95MHz comment was regarding the approximate broadcast of R4)

        However, ignoring the negatives is absolutely still a fail. If they get 80 complaints (which they have so far), all they know is that this is 80 examples from people who are capable of realising. This isn't a comparible statistic against "all plasmas" - this is against "all people who have a plasma and are capable of realising interference". They have no idea what they're baselining their data against, and that is where they fail. For all they know, there are only 80 people out there looking for it and they've all found it, or there could be 8000 people out there and only 80 have found it.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          I think...

          ...that they are looking for ad hoc data to determine whether or not the situation is worth looking into further with more statistically valid methods.

    5. JaitcH

      Odd harmonics do it

      10MHZ x 9 or 30MHZ x 3 sound like potential offenders.

  7. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Who cares?

    Plasma's will become increasingly irrelevant as LCD and OLED technologies mature, especially with the LED backlights that are becoming available.

    I predict that Plasma TV's will be banned because they are too energy inefficient once all filament lightbulbs have been eliminated. Especially if the manufacturers can lobby governments. Soon we will have TV's being replaced every year to meet government carbon emissions targets.

    Joke. (I hope)

  8. SoltanGris

    Ham in Texas is tasty with grits n honey.

    The plasma TV my next door neighbors have definitely interfere with my radio 'kit''

    Kit being a Kenwood TX480 30khz to 60mhz transceiver.

    Most of the interference is on the 'medium wave' bands from 1.6mhz on up through

    14mhz. AM broadcast band here in the USA is just around 680khz to around 1.7mhz

    and when they fire up the noise maker in the evenings the weaker AM stations can be


    Me, I use a LCD 48inch set. Prior to learning about the inherent noise factor

    involved with plasma sets I was a fan of that tech for the inherent better contrast.

    But, being a radio amateur operator and all means I have an awareness of RFI generating

    monster tech. The general public grubs wont' be aware of such issues or even care if they did.


  9. Dave 52

    HA HA

    LOLOLOL!!! If given the chance, how many people would take Radio 4 over their Plasma?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      +1 here.

    2. Chris Young

      @ Dave 52

      I would. Most of what's on the Magic Box (whatever flavour it is) is shite anyway.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      @ HA HA


      Clearly you'd much rather have Big Brother, jeremy Kyle, Corrie & CSI Miami, and just as clearly your choice is based upon your intellect.

      But I respect your right to have that choice.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      @Dave 52

      > If given the chance, how many people would take Radio 4 over their Plasma?

      Well, me for a start, since I don't have any of this new-fangled plasma stuff. My 20-y-o Sony CRT still works very well, thank you, for the <1 programme a day worth watching..

      Does the fuss that RSGB are now making about supposed interference from plasma TVs mean that they have given up on the supposed interference from HomePlugs?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        AC @ 13:50

        No, they're going ahead on the homeplugs.

        BTW, its demonstrated in the case of home plugs - that's how people affected by these can call Ofcom and say "there's a prat at number 21 two streets away using them. Sort it out".

      2. Brian Morrison

        There's nothing supposed....

        ....about the interference from plasma TVs or PLT devices.

        And no, the RSGB have not given up on anything, but in the light of PA Consulting's report to Ofcom that says "yes, these PLT devices will become a big problem in the near future so something needs to be done to sort out the potential for trouble" I think they're biding their time for now to find out what Ofcom are planning to do themselves.

        Why Ofcom won't enforce the EMC regulations (2006) I don't know, lake of spine I suspect.

    5. david bates

      I would...

      I still run a CRT as my main telly, and based on the quality of many broadcasts (visual and content) I've seen in Currys et-al I see no very good reason to change ATM.

      You can, however, pry my FM radios all tuned to Radio 4 from my cold, dead hands.

    6. Steve X
      Thumb Up

      ha ha ?

      Radio 4 wins over TV any day.

    7. Code Monkey

      Me too

      Telly is pretty much all shite. Radio 4 is fantastic. All IMO, of course.

    8. Anonymous Coward

      As I don't watch TV.

      I guess I would be another one.

    9. Anonymous Coward


      What type of radio ham are you? (apart from bearded of course!) Are you a buy it all in brown boxes and can connect it up type, or are you a I can build my own kit if I wanted to type?

      I ask because you could always make something to interfere with their TV instead (hyperthetically speaking of course). I certainly wouldn't recommend manufacturing anything from an old microwave oven magnatron to permanently silence the plasma TV either...

      Anon because although I haven't incited any crime, nor given details of how to do it, I still don't trust the men with guns.

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And another...

      Another to add to the chiming chorus of Radio Four listeners.

    11. Geoff Campbell
      Thumb Up

      I'd choose Radio 4

      After all, the pictures are better on Radio 4.


  10. Andy Livingstone

    Geeks laugh at Beardies

    I know it is the silly season, but how does that twaddle even pretend to be news?

    The only things harming domestic radio are foreign continuity announcers (Radio 4) and the need for subtitles in English (Radio 5). Even China Radio has better quality English speakers in its relays from Radio Luxembourg...... once the home of Dan Dare and the Top Twenty........ blimey, is nothing sacred?

    1. david bates

      Foreign continuity announcers...?

      I can only think of one with a non-uk accent and I've never had a problem understanding him.

      Besides, they have Charlotte Green, so they can be forgiven a lot...

      1. Roger Varley

        Charlotte Green

        I've never seen Charlotte Green, but she sounds gorgeous.

        1. Rob.T

          She's not the prettiest of women it has to be said

        2. Brian Morrison
          Thumb Up

          A quick look at Wikipedia reveals much....

          .... and then there's the whole piece referred to here:

          There are links to photos too, if that's your bag.....

        3. M0SNR

          Charlotte Green

          I'm a big fan of Charlotte, especially when she corpses on air. This is brilliant -

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Are you talking about the guy with the rich, chocolatey voice? He reminds me of Barbados Slim, but I don't have any problem with understanding him at all, in fact I quite like him.

      1. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

        Re: Eh?

        Me too

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Niel Nunes?

        Initially criticised for his accent but retained after recieving praise from feedback repondants.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Hitachi 42PD7200...

    ... an old but good Plasma, which doesn't meddle with HF radio at all :)

  12. PaulWizard

    Not got my beard yet

    But then I guess that is due to me only having an Intermediate HAM licence. Perhaps I should grow a goatee.

  13. Nebulo

    Technical detail

    "When not organising competitions to see who ... can transmit a 10MHz signal furthest"

    Actually, the 10MHz band is the one HF band we *don't* have contests on, by international agreement. All the others, yes.


  14. Paul Widger

    My Plasma trouble fixed by Pansonic

    In Jan 2004 my neighbour got a new toy- a Panasonic Plasma TV.

    All radio from radio 4 198 khz to shortwave 30 Mhz was blotted out, not FM radio 4 (95 Mhz) as some have incorrectly concluded.Tests proved it could be heard 400m away!

    To cut a very long story short 11 months later Pansonic engineer arrived from their UK HQ with a replacement screen which completely cured the problem.

    Panasonic took measurements before and after so they including their Japanese HQ know of the

    problem and how to cure it.

    I have since found out that some Toshiba sets which used the same screen gave similar problems.

    My cooperative neighbour was rewarded with a considerably brighter picture !

    Panasonic engineer admitted that he had dealt with several other cases.

    Please note that I have no objection to the majority of Plasmas including most Panasonics which do

    not cause inteference,everyone has a right to interference free reception whatever someone elses view of Radio 4 or any other station may happen to be.

    Have been hearing some Plasmas are OK for about 2 years then something deteriorates so interference starts to be a problem.

    Didnt involve Ofcom as they are less use than a chocolate fireguard.

  15. heyrick Silver badge

    Where did Radio 4 come from?

    I tried searching and kept getting the same canned statement about "We only need to know the number of interference cases, no details, and no names/addresses." (which surely statistically means bugger all as there's not much way to tell if these cases are even genuine).

    There is a reason to ask this - Radio4 is on LW. My mother listens to it and pretty much *everything* from my CRT to the local farmer's milking machine > 1/2 mile away interferes with it. Then there's FM R4 which is supposed to be more resiliant as FM was devised to get around all the problems with AM.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Big Problem

    Who watches their TV (plasma or otherwise) and listens to radio 4 at the same time. OK so maybe you'd listen to 5 since the sports commentary is so much better on there than it is on TV.

  17. Alien Doctor 1.1

    Reception goes here with or without unseen subtitles

    I would try to listen to my BBC local station on VM but whenever I try and "tune in" (press 938) I have a recorded message that says "due to licensing conditions this programme is unavailable/deleted/nuked; whatever".

    I have no DAB - not that that would be any better - and I guess I should now try searching for something called a radio receiver (built one in early 70's with a piece of galena and a fucking long bit of wire).

    Oh, those days in the 60's/70's hidden under the blankets with a non-rechargeable battery torch and a copy of "The Famous Five Go Diving" (hmmmmm, I wonder..........)

  18. The Stainless Steel Cat

    Rich, chocolatey Radio 4...

    That would be Jamaican, Neil Nunes. 3rd best voice on Radio 4 after the sainted Charlottle, and the soothing Kathy Clugston.

  19. chizz

    Another beardie... for R4 over anything on telly...

    I gave up on the plasma when it started interfering with my hammer drill.

  20. Nick Pettefar

    Beards - oh no!

    Been wearing a beard for a couple of months now and this is the first time I have heard of the Amateur Radio connection. Scary!

    M0NjP - R4 fan. Biker. Unix sysadmin. I guess the beard goes with all these! No hope for me.

  21. M0SNR


    I keep my FT-817 hidden in mine but my XYL keeps an FT2000D and DMU in her ladygarden :)

    And I'm working on getting fldigi (a digital radio comms package) running under Linux..,.

  22. Alan Brown Silver badge

    If you think plasma TVs are bad........

    Then you've never measured the RF splatter from a compact flourescent bulb.

    Right up past 400MHz (lightswitch remote controls, garage door operners, etc)

    Why can't the beardies chase something which is a _real_ nuisance?

    (Disclosure - I used to be a "ham" and in a previous professional life operated stacks of 20kW PEP shortwave transmitters which were already museum pieces back then)

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019