back to article Fed up with poor Brit telly and radio output? Ofcom wants a word with YOU

Ofcom has kicked off a two-year study to map digital TV and radio reception in the UK. The watchdog has asked Brits for input on whether signal quality should be improved, and who should be paid to do the research. The answer to the latter question will probably be Arqiva. The company has a near monopoly on providing the …


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  1. graeme leggett

    Ofcom would also like to switch off FM radio, but can't until it knows that DAB is reaching everyone"

    That'll be never then at the rate that goes. But shouldn't it be government policy that FM is switched off, and then for Ofcom to carry out the policy? I'm probably not paying attention but it comes across as ofcom has these ideas itself and then looks to carry them out without much ministerial input.

  2. GremlinUK

    I'd like to know why the Freeview broadcasters think they can get away with different levels of service for the same levels of license fee. Depending upon where you live in the British Isles (and I include the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands in this), you get varying numbers of channels, but everyone has to pay the same license fee. This means that I (as a resident of the Isle of Man) am subsidising UK viewers/listeners TV and radio. Not on, I tell you, not on!

    1. jeeps

      Your license fee only funds the BBC, the rest of the channels have to pay their own way through advertising.

      1. GremlinUK

        Nope, on two counts. I rarely watch commercial TV, so don't give a damn about it, and ITV gets some of the license fee too, and has done for a number of years.

        1. Mike Dimmick

          The licence fee funds the BBC

          I'm sorry, but you're wrong: ITV does not receive any part of the licence fee. It should not: it is an entirely commercial organisation.

          I am trying to find a documentary source for you, but I'm struggling. The law (Communications Act 2003 section 365) requires the BBC to collect the licence fee, but to pay all money collected (less any refunds to be paid) into the government's main bank account, known as the Consolidated Fund. The government then decide how to allocate whatever they receive.

          The Consolidated Fund accounts for 2012-13 shows "BBC Licence Fee Revenue" as £3,122m. The BBC's Annual Report shows £3,091.7m income plus £16.8m 'premium' from the quarterly payment scheme.

          The government, from 2008 to 2012, did top-slice the licence fee to fund Digital UK and the Switchover Help Scheme. Since the BBC was a large shareholder in Digital UK, its accounts were consolidated in the BBC's accounts, and SHS was also arranged under the BBC. Now that switchover is complete, that money is heading to the government's Broadband Delivery UK scheme.

          1. Irongut

            Re: The licence fee funds the BBC

            Explain Channel 4. They definitely get some of the licence fee.

            I'm not sure about ITV but once you know about 4 you realise it isn't as cut and dried as BBC get the licence fee, everyone else has adverts.

            1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

              Re: The licence fee funds the BBC

              > Explain Channel 4. They definitely get some of the licence fee.

              Not according to their website:


    2. pPPPP

      "This means that I (as a resident of the Isle of Man) am subsidising UK viewers/listeners TV and radio"

      Nope. I, as a London resident, am subsidising you. We have a transmitter in Crystal Palace which serves tens of millions of us. Yet we're forced to subsidise a transmitter in Douglas for you and your 80,000 chums. If everyone's licence fee was spent on paying only for their local transmission network, then yours would go up quite considerably, I'm afraid. It's the same argument for standard mail charges across the country. Why should we, having to pay through our noses to live in London, subsidise your lavish, tax-free lifestyle?

    3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      The channels which get at least some of their income from licence fee money (the so-called Public Service Broadcasters) are the ones available everywhere. The other advertising-funded channels are the ones which can choose whether to cover certain areas, and they clearly choose only to pay for transmitter resources in areas where they'll get enough viewers.

      If you want those channels, try Freesat.

  3. Anomalous Cowshed

    fed up with British TV and radio?

    It's off to the Ministry of Truth for you!

  4. Roger Greenwood

    FM vs DAB

    Seems to me that the reception problems of DAB have been solved by FM a long time ago. Stop trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist - we really don't need 150 broadcast radio stations.

    Surely niche channels are better served today by 4G/t'internet. They appear out of nowhere, they flourish for a while in the sunshine of publicity, then they die. Meh.

    1. Piro

      Re: FM vs DAB

      Couldn't agree more.

      Instead of wasting our time and money making all FM radios obsolete - a simple, low cost, low power technology that it is in every car and home up and down the country - why not make the absolutely hopeless DAB obsolete, scrap it, and let people listen to online radio if that's what they want to do.

      Let people keep their perfectly working radio receivers, forever.

      Also, DAB is hopeless for timing. Radio 4 pips, anyone?

      1. Munkstar

        Re: FM vs DAB

        But your the majority ......... that will never do!

      2. Wize

        Re: FM vs DAB

        FM works fine. And if you turn on several radios in your house, they are all in sync. (Handy when doing the housework at the weekend)

        Can't do that with DAB.

        If your signal is a little bit out, you can still hear the station. So a little interference is annoying, but won't be a big problem.

        DAB is all or nothing.

        I had a 3rd floor flat in the city. I had clear views in all directions. The DAB alarm clock could only pick up a signal in the kitchen. Ziltch in the bedroom. How it is supposed to work in the street below is anyone's guess.

      3. Paul Westerman

        Re: FM vs DAB

        I bloody hate DAB. We get iffy FM reception so after being bombarded with adverts on the BBC with 'D Love' going on about how great DAB is we took the plunge. It's completely useless, we get no BBC stations whatsoever or the wife's Classic FM. We get something called 'Heart' which is terrible and sounds like it's underwater half the time, and 'Gaydar' which is clear as a bell. Thanks. Fortunately the thing is also an iPod dock. So is it our fault because we live in a coalmine or in the Outer Hebrides? No, we live on the south coast, near Brighton, along with a few million other people.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: FM vs DAB

      That would be great if there was anything worth listening to on FM.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about......

    ...not having every radio station prety much being the same.

    1. Middle of the road mix of dull modern stuff and 80's blandness. This usually have adverts

    2. Incredibly dull content, even more bland than above, but with a smashy and nicey presenter. Read local BBC Radio.

    3. Hillarious, Zany, Shouty DJ. Read Youff programming. Music dull and unoriginal.

    Hell even Keranng is pretty dull these days.

    Maybe if programme output was done by the DJ's and not a commitee, with the main purpose of not offending anyone, then so many people wouldn't be offended by the blandness.

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: How about......

      >Maybe if programme output was done by the DJ's and not a commitee,

      Abso bluddy lutely. Ban playlists, say I.

    2. Fihart

      Re: How about......

      Too right. Long ago given up on music radio. MOR pop stations are irritating beyond belief . Radio 3 gravitas and quirkiness has been eliminated -- now sounds like Classic FM.

      That leaves R4 and the bits of R5 not occupied by bloody sport.

      As for DAB -- I think Freeview has proven that more choice of stations actually boils down to less choice of material (and more advertising).

      These days I might watch TV on Saturday nights and the odd movie the rest of the weekend. Otherwise the TV is off 5 days a week.

      1. Chris Parsons

        Re: How about......


        R3 died when they joined the 'Top 100' craze.

  6. jeeps

    Think about the cars!

    What exactly are OFCOM going to propose for the millions of cars on the UK roads that don't have DAB? Mine has DAB and I can only ever get a handful of channels at the best of times, all of which are commercial crap with adverts every 30 seconds.

    1. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: Think about the cars!

      Tune-In on your phone + A2DP headunit in the car.

      Works fine for having BBC (or any other) radio stations in the car. Even in France.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Think about the cars!


        Are you going to pay my data charges?

        And if i need an A2DP headunit, i might as well get a DAB one, no?

      2. Chloe Cresswell

        Re: Think about the cars!

        I'd love to see you do that on my drive today, 30% of the time, my newest phone was "emergency calls only" and my primary phone was wandering between 3.5 and 2G. Not everyone lives in a place with constant high bandwidth data on the mobiles.

  7. NATO

    DAB in Cars

    I remember reading a while back about DAB only being offered by a handful of car manufacturers, and even then it was a pricey optional extra - there were few (if any) that offered it cheaply or as standard.

    So even if ALL car manufacturers started offering DAB today as standard, there's a huge lead time before you could consider the vast majority of cars on the road to have it, and since people listen to the radio in the car a lot more than they would anywhere else, FM Radio isn't going anywhere.

  8. Munkstar

    Will it not all be broadband delivery? Hence the current battle to give sport away free with the Broadband (BT)?

  9. John Sager

    Is 'mobile' really more important than broadcast?

    The subtext here seems to be to get all services as far as possible onto 'broadband' and satellite (until a sun belch kills them all), so they can re-use the frequencies. There are too many off-the-net users (caravanners, migrant workers, etc) and users who will never have fibre-to-the-home. I agree that closing FM radio in favour of DAB is a seriously stupid idea. If DAB is going to get anywhere, it needs to catch up with coding technology in the same way that TV has with DVB-T2/S2 and H.264 (and soon H.265).

  10. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    "Improving" signal quality?

    Has Ofcom considered the conditions under which such "improvements" will be used? The last few weeks of hot weather/high pressure have had the usual effect of bringing in signals from many places (N. France, Belgium, etc) which don't usually reach the UK. Although this happened in the analogue days as well it was a managed situation which rarely caused problems post-VHF. The obvious channel-clashes had long ago been resolved. With modern DTT receivers reacting to the appearance of new channels and offering to retune, a whole new set of problems is appearing, especially when the unexpected signal is briefly stronger than the usual one. Maybe Ofcom should let the dust settle on DTT for a few years before re-re-designing the system?

  11. Joe Montana


    Most cars don't support DAB by default, and most other countries don't use DAB.. If they do have digital radio it will often be using a different standard. FM is fairly universal, and easy for auto makers to include so they can then sell their cars in many different countries.

    I regularly rent cars, the rental cars are all modern less than a year old vehicles from various different manufacturers and so far none of them have had DAB.

    And then there's all the existing cars on the roads, many of which have integrated radios and aftermarket replacements often look quite crude and lose integration with the rest of the car.

    Personally i only ever listen to radio in the car,

    1. Chloe Cresswell

      Re: Cars

      I rented a Mk4 FL mondeo (I drive a mk3FL normally) and it had DAB.

      It was probably the most dangerous thing I've ever had in a car. To change channel, you needed to navigate the menus on the dash display with the steering wheel controls. You can't do that with out looking.

      I'll stick with scan up/down or click to presets with a flick of my left finger over that! I don't have to look down and read to do it.

      Or should we only ever change station/volume by pulling over and stopping?

      1. HipposRule

        Re: Cars

        I've got DAB in a Seat and have 12 (I think, I only ever listen to 3 of them) presets.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Personally I wish they would offer some more repeats - there are many older programs from the 60's, 70's and 80's much better than the modern offerings.

  13. andy gibson

    I'll happily scrap DAB

    When 6Music gets its rightful frequency on FM.

  14. Martin S

    Community radio

    What will happen to the community radio stations which don't have a presence on DAB?

  15. Tim J

    Re the headline - it's not "output", it's reception.

    Output suggests content (i.e.programmes), whereas this issue is about reception of broadcast transmissions.

  16. alan buxey

    DAB reception?

    how about they just have a simple web form where you put in your location details and report your current

    DAB signal? or register your driving routes and whether DAB actually worked at all for you?

    they'd soon get a lot of data. its called crowd-sourcing.

    or they can start with this, DAB signal is generally rubbish in Nottingham.


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