back to article NO! Radio broadcasters snub 'end of FM' DAB radio changeover

Some of the largest and most influential UK radio operators have joined a campaign opposing the upcoming mandatory digital switchover. The change would force major broadcasters to migrate to DAB, abandoning the ever-popular FM band to niche and local radio stations. Culture and comms minister Ed Vaizey is expected to outline …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Professor Clifton Shallot

    Local listening

    "only 15 per cent of local listening is done through DAB, which leave the smaller and more interesting stations in trouble"

    Are the smaller stations actually interesting?

    How many like Resonance FM are there out there?

    A lot of them seem to be identikit chart pop stations that it is hard to imagine anyone really missing.

    What are the good ones that I am overlooking?

    1. Lamont Cranston

      Re: Local listening

      There are plenty of interesting local stations, but they either serve a tiny market, or operate without a license (so far as I could tell - I had some fantastic drum'n'bass station cut in to my DAB rebroadcast when my car went over the QEII bridge, and I'm assuming that the hyperactive loon, clearly broadcasting out of his shed, responsible didn't have a license).

      Shunting the large commercial operators onto DAB would free up the FM space, and probably deal a death-blow to the identikit chart pop stations, which is win-win, in my book.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Are the smaller stations actually interesting?

      Who decides on what is "interesting"? Surely we need a more objective measure, although I am having trouble thinking of one.

      I suppose I would like to construct some sort of diversity-vs-audience measure, where being different could offset low audience numbers. Anyone know of any good measures of radio-content entropy?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Local listening

      Where I live they struggle to get any decent DAB stations, just a few useless usual suspects but nothing local.

      Instead I now rely on Internet radio, can listen to the other side of the world if I want.

      DAB feels like Betamax, vinyl, tape cassettes all rolled in to one.

      No doubt that when DAB 4.1 is rolled out in three years time, then DAB 7.5 in ten years time we will be forced to buy new receivers as there will be no compatibility.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Local listening

        There is a medium-sized town about twelve mile from where I live, with it's wonderfully eclectic community-run FM station. Alas, its signal peters out about a mile and half from my house.

        I can listen to it over the internet, though.

    4. Chet Mannly

      Re: Local listening

      Spot on - if they actually were interesting they wouldn't be in trouble and trying to force the entire market to change to prop up their station, they'd be drawing crowds across to DAB and the majors would have to follow.

      DAB - an expensive solution to a non-existent problem...

    5. oddie

      Re: Local listening

      There is a wonderful local radio station in Glasgow called Sunny Govan, complete with interesting characters, random banter and superb music (and sometimes music I don't like.. but its never bland... if you drive into work you sometimes get hiphop, othertimes led zeppelin) their signal is quite strong for a local radio, so I can (and usually do) switch over to them as soon as I get close to the city... or keep myself tuned to 103.5FM until all reception is gone.

      I hope this digital switchover nonsense don't kill them off, as they are one of the few reasons I listen to radio at all :)

  2. TRT Silver badge

    Oh yeah...

    I saw some of those. Bit cr** aren't they? TBH, if they kill FM, I won't be listening to the radio at all. I do it in the car, and I'm not changing my car's radio just for that. Stoopid.

  3. Tom 7 Silver badge

    No to FM switch off

    No to DAB,

    1. Soap Distant

      Re: No to FM switch off

      @Tom 7

      "No to FM switch off "

      This.

      If it was good, take-up would be better than 15 or 23% whichever figure you choose.

      DAM is ham.

      *ham shank

      SD

  4. Stuart 16

    I can't switch my car's radio for a DAB one, there simply isn't a DAB radio available to replace the factory fitted, integrated, analogue one. Why not just make stations broadcast on Google+, that will ensure that no-one listens.

  5. Fuzz

    Things that need to happen

    1. Legislation to make it mandatory for all new cars to be sold with multiformat (DAB, DAB+, DRM+) radios

    2. Wait 10 years for new cars to become common

    3. During that time develop new DAB radios that use as little power as an FM radio and are as cheap so people can replace all their portable radios and radios in phones.

    4. Make DAB radio signal stronger so it can be picked up properly.

    People don't need DAB radios in their houses. In your house an Internet radio is better. People need portable DAB in their cars and their hands, but until the above happens you can't turn off FM.

    1. timhowarduk

      Re: Things that need to happen

      I agree with you that car listening is a key part of this issue.

      But to be honest I struggle to imagine that legislation to force all EU imported cars to include DAB options would go too well... Considering the diversity of countries the cars are made in how many manufactures would be willing to change their spec sheet for the British market, and how much would they inflate the showroom price for doing so?

      It almost seems more likely that new cars would become mobile internet capable, and together with investment in 3G/4G coverage (which is happening anyway) would increase the viability of internet radio in the car.

      I remember when as a kid with an electronic set one could make a crude LW radio as long as you had an earth connection, and no battery needed at all! I can't see DAB power consumption ever getting that good, this is one of those 'advancements' in technology like VHS where the new thing is worse in many ways, having a much more compressed audio frequency spectrum and requiring more electronics to access this 'degraded' signal. OK, rant over!

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Streaming Radio

      Yeah and every bit received goes off your download quota whereas DAB is BROADCAST to everyone.

      Once you have paid for your receiver it is free to use.

      1. Vic

        Re: Streaming Radio

        > every bit received goes off your download quota

        Your what?

        Vic.

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Things that need to happen

      >During that time develop new DAB radios that use as little power as an FM radio

      Good point, but how? Consider what eats your batteries:

      FM Radio = Amplifier

      DAB Radio = Processor(s) for error-correction coding, OFDM modulation, packet mode statistical multiplexing, frame synchronization and audio decoding THEN amplifier

      The absolute best case scenario is that you can, in time, get a DAB radio receiver to use ALMOST as little juice as an FM set.

    4. keith_w

      Re: Things that need to happen

      I live in Canada, so we are not having the replace FM with DAB conversation here. However, the suggestion that you listen to your radio over the internet would not be appropriate in my house. I have many things that I do with my computer, and one thing I do not want to do is listen to the radio on it. I have a couple of cheap speakers and a subwoofer, but the sound is no where near the quality I get from my stereo system, which I just upgraded with a new pair of Warfedale Diamond 10.2 speakers. Additionally we use different logons rather than a single one and leave it logged off or turned when not actively in use.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Things that need to happen

        I appreciate that you don't want to use your computer to listen to music.

        However, there are lots of devices that can play Internet Radio besides your computer. You may already have an old smartphone in your drawer, or you may not. Even a brand new ( albeit cheap Chinese) Android tablet isn't much more than the price of a new DAB radio set over here. A second-hand Sony PSP works quite well for internet radio too.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Things that need to happen

        "I live in Canada, so we are not having the replace FM with DAB conversation here. "

        That's because just like with TV, mobile phones, etc. etc. the colonies went with an inferior solution based on proprietary US technology and infected you with it...

        1. Rukario
          Unhappy

          Re: Things that need to happen

          "the colonies went with an inferior solution based on proprietary US technology and infected you with it"

          Not all the colonies, only this one.

    5. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Things that need to happen

      No, none of those because Digital Radio of ANY system inherently can't adequately replace portable analogue radio.

      DAB particularly (or DAB+) is a bad choice.

      I used to believe in Digital Radio. But it's a terrible user experience and as an Expert on designing RF, Digital, Software etc, I can't see how it can be fixed. Never mind the power consumption.

    6. Colin Millar
      Mushroom

      Re: Things that need to happen

      Legislation to mandate radio connections in cars? Are you nuts?

      Talk about taking a thermonuclear explosion to crack a peanut

    7. Charles Manning

      Re: Things that need to happen

      5. New DAB format invented. New mandate that car radios are upped to new DAB format.

      6. Wait another 10 years.

      Do that all and people would still rather have FM....

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Things that need to happen

      And you will make sure everyone has the internet as well?

      Another do-good arse talker

    9. ad47uk

      Re: Things that need to happen

      Internet radio is better? I don't agree with that, the internet is not 100% reliable and what happens if you don't have the internet?

  6. Jeff Green

    I have a small FM radio I take to cricket matches, on one AAA battery it lasts the whole season. A cheap (pronounced disastrously expensive) DAB radio struggles to do the whole of one game on an AA. On the DAB radio the content is frequently unobtainable, or breaks up randomly, poor quality FM still brings you the content, DAB just brings you squawks and clicks. When what I want to listen to isn't available on real radio I usually resort to internet radio via 3g which comes to my smartphone and seems to be much more battery friendly, less prone to interference and has hundreds of times more stations available.

    DAB is completely unsuitable as a replacement for FM, in fact it is very hard to think of a use for it at all!

  7. ChrisM

    The reason why the TV switchover worked was because it was easy and relatively cheap (£10 freeview box).

    The radio switchover is neither and until they bridge that gap no one will be interested.

    1. teebie

      In fairness the digital tv also had the support of a fair few viewers, as opposed to digital radio's thumbless handful, which must have helped.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      The digital TV switchover also happened smack-bang in the "let's replace this huge power-hungry box that takes up one corner of the room, with a slick, flat-panel, up-to-date, loads-of-HMDI-connectors TV that sits nicely on the wall and has lots of extra added features like the Internet" period, too, though. Not forgetting that most of the people moving onto "digital" TV were already there - on satellite or cable.

      DAB is just an expensive waste of time. 14 years and still nowhere to be seen.

      I just can't justify it. It's not going to be long before I can get any portable digital TV I want on my smartphone, that also happens to do digital radio stations too (you already can, if you have that Sky app or iPlayer or equivalent). Why would I bother with a separate device? An expensive device? A battery-killing device? That I have to pay for? That I have to replace multiple FULLY FUNCTIONAL radios with?

      No thanks. Hurry up and die so we can just do proper apps for this stuff.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Is that why bulimia and anorexia are so rife in the media celebrity world? So they can fit into those ever slimmer boxes in the living room?

      2. Rich 2

        Actually, I think you'll find that your "huge power-hungry box that takes up one corner of the room" consumes much LESS power than your "slick, [power-hungry] flat-panel"

    3. MJI Silver badge

      DSO TV

      Actually I went to DTTV mainly for anamorphic widescreen broadcasts, and that back then DTTV was better than analogue (mine was a bit ghosty)

  8. Mattjimf

    "It's only been viewed 1,805 times on YouTube - but surely deserves a wider airing"

    And god knows how many airings on the BBC, who manage to circumvent the whole not-advertising by chucking in mentions of BBC stations and events broadcast on BBC stations.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    William Rogers

    Can't work out William Rogers. Spends his days complaining about DAB, but his company has been busy acquiring shares in DAB muxes including Surrey, Somerset and Cornwall. Seems to me that he's rather hedging his bets.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Typical

    UTV says "No"!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    anti-DAB agenda

    yawn, here we go again.

    Wake me up when FM offers the choice that DAB offers.

    FM in my area is utter shite, with programming for 16 year old girls, 65 year old fogies and nothing in between.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: anti-DAB agenda

      We're not so much anti-DAB here (live and let live) but rather pro-FM. It is nice to have a low cost, low power way of receiving news and music.

      True, the choice on FM isn't always great, but you can currently choose to buy yourself a DAB set if you wish, or go online for tens of thousands of radio stations.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: anti-DAB agenda

      Choice? When my DAB radio doesn't gurgle I seem to get nothing more that pop channels with mentally deficient DJ's. Choice is not good when its all shit and I only want one decent channel and thats available on fm and tells the right time.

    3. MrZoolook

      Re: anti-DAB agenda

      The same choice that Digital TV gives us? Looking just at BBC, we have BBC 1 and 2 (which were analogue anyway, and about 14 channels of repeats from yesterday, yesteryear, and yestercentury of programs that were on BBC 1 and 2. ITV offers pretty much the same, plus a chance to catch up with itv1+1 etc. Which is just an hour delayed repeat of itv1.

      Wow, an incredible "choice" that warrented forced uptake...

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Digital TV choice

        You lose you forgot

        1) BBC 4

        2) BBC News 24

        3) CBeebies

        4) CBBC

        5) Film 4

        6) Dave

        For parents with young chidren CBeebies is excellent

        For Red Dwarf there is Dave

  12. The Man Himself Silver badge
    Boffin

    in-car listening

    I wonder what percentage of radio listening happens in cars...no stats to hand but I imagine it's quite high, possibly even the majority of all radio listening

    I also wonder what percentage of cars are equipped with DAB-capable sets? again, no stats to hand, but I imagine it's pretty low. I know that a DAB radio came as an option when I bought my last car from new, but after reviewing the full options/costs list, I didn't take it.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wide ranging legislation required

    Buy a 2013 Mazda CX-5 or a host of other cars and there will be no DAB option.

    Legislation needs to be enacted for a smooth transition - e.g. all new radios must contain a DAB receiver. Then, in 20 years time a forced shutdown of FM can be enacted.

  14. Richard 81

    Unable to watch as at work, but...

    Is that ship supposed to be captained by Thin Lizzy?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ummm,,,,,,

    DAB? Isn't that like ISDN for radio?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ummm,,,,,,

      It's like 1200/75 in the era of ISDN.

  16. teapot9999

    What about cars?

    There is no sensible, practical retrofit car solution for DAB.

    I agree that most local radio is crappy identikit stations.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: What about cars?

      Not only that, but there's a stream of information about roadworks and accidents etc beamed out with Classic FM. My car's built-in navigation system uses that. No swap out available. And I plan to keep this car for another 10 years or so.

      And there's the TA system too... brilliant. RDS is good... it isn't broken, you don't need the extra spectrum, just... madness to force a shutdown.

  17. wolfetone Silver badge

    Yes to FM switch off, but only if it switches off BBC radio.

    Somehow it feels that every time my car radio searches for a station I end up with a BBC station. Whether it's a local radio show or a national one. The problem, for me, is more acute when you're around the Coventry area, so you end up with BBC WM, BBC Coventry, BBC Leicester, on top of your usual BBC Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 3 and Radio 4. By the time I've found another station (usually have to switch to AM/MW for proper choice) I'm BBC'ed out. I am still, after 4 years of driving and dealing with Radio 3 and Radio 4, trying to find out how the two stations are different.

    Also I'm with TRT. I only listen to the radio in the car, and I won't be changed my car's head unit just to get DAB.

    1. mrfill

      Re: Yes to FM switch off, but only if it switches off BBC radio.

      Don't change the head, just get a Pure Highway. It's very simple.

      There again, I am easily able to tell the difference between a classical music based station and a speech based station.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yes to FM switch off, but only if it switches off BBC radio.

      The difference is easy, R3 plays music and R4 doesn't, not that difficult to work out surely?

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Yes to FM switch off, but only if it switches off BBC radio.

      Radio 3 is mostly classical music (with a bit of 'world music' and jazz at obscure times)

      Radio 4 is all spoken word; news, documentaries, dramas, comedy. Sometimes the LW versions varies from its FM counterpart and has cricket and church services.

    4. Geoffrey W Silver badge

      Re: Yes to FM switch off, but only if it switches off BBC radio.

      If you really can't tell the difference between BBC radio 3 and radio 4 (and not just trolling, or stupid, or spouting off without ever having heard either) then I suggest the voices in your head are getting out of hand and interfering with external sounds and treatment is required. Try silence once in a while.

  18. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

    Good on them

    I'm with anybody who wants to see the end of DAB. I'm more than happy with the current high quality broadcast FM combined with Internet Radio for specialist audio streams and iPlayer-style 'play it again' access.

    Back in the day we were promised that DAB would provide "CD quality sound" and, IIRC, near 100% coverage with better-than FM mobile reception. What we got is shitty low bitrate MP3 quality, poor coverage and a system that won't work anywhere outside the UK. DAB's sponsors should either scrap it immediately with a public apology for the botched project or deliver on the original promise of audio quality and coverage.

    PS: whatever happened to Radio Mondial?

  19. McBread

    If..

    ...I ran an FM station I'd campaign against DAB too:

    You can't go giving the great unwashed a choice. They might discover 6Music and stop listening to my completely non-unique blend of adverts and turgid X-Factor 'hits'. Car drivers should have the choice of four BBC stations and two commerical stations. Anything more is a communist plot to deprive me of my profit.

    1. Red Bren

      Re: If..

      "If I ran an FM station I'd campaign against DAB too"

      As it states in the article, The largest commercial [FM] operator is pushing for the switch over. It's the smaller, more diverse operators that are campaigning against the move, partly because they can't afford the access fees charged by the multiplex owners, which skews the market in favour of the big boys, with their completely non-unique blend of adverts and turgid X-Factor 'hits'.

      6Music is an interesting case - it has a similar audience share to Radio 3, even without being available on FM. Were it to broadcast on FM, there's a good chance it could push Radio 1 into third place and maybe challenge Radio 2 for the top spot.

  20. knarf

    99% of Cars don't have dab

    oh well there goes my Radio 4 in the car. I find DAB to be really really low quality and bad signal making it unusable..

  21. Ben Rose

    DAB is pointless

    Given the availability of internet radio, I find DAB a little pointless. As you can pick up global radio stations from anywhere with an internet connection, whats the point in a poor broadcast service? Many new cars now have internet access options, which could be used for in car audio.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: DAB is pointless

      So when are Ofcom going to write an new clause into the 2G/3G/4G mobile contracts that state that network providers must provide enough mobile capacity to sustain a 128Mb data connection to every car on the road? Yes, anyone can pickup a radio station via an interconnect connection .... but if everyone does then there may be a problem given that its not doing multicast.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: DAB is pointless @Ben

      A two word retort to your Internet access in cars comment - usage caps.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Chemist

          Re: DAB is pointless @Ben

          "incurs a total bandwidth consumption of 1,382,400 bytes."

          Are you sure ? I make it 1.38 GB

        2. MrZoolook

          Re: DAB is pointless @Ben

          While maths isn't exactly my strong point, I know that a typical 128kb/s song in my Moe collection comes out at roughly 3mb for 3 minutes. I suggest you check your calculations.

        3. The Man Himself Silver badge

          Re: DAB is pointless @Ben

          Regardless of accurate those calculations are, there is a key issue which you failed to factor in. It's all well and good looking at data requirements for one car's radio, but what happens when all the cars (or at least a big percentage of them) in a cell all compete for resources on the call base station?

          My guess is that the BS will max out....and I can't see the networks increasing the capacity on all of their cells, and the underlying terrestrial network, just people can listen to the radio

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: DAB is pointless @Ben

          "a MB and change."

          Downloading 30 mins worth of Radio 4 comedy uses ~30MB.

          16kB/sec so how many in 1000 secs? , oh 16MB

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: DAB is pointless @Ben

            I stand corrected.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I stopped listening to radio, and this is why:

    They promise to play a good track to get you on the hook,

    then they play a whole load of annoying adverts.

    Then they have a news report. It's rare that anything interesting has happened.

    then some more adverts,

    then a weather report, which says it's raining at the moment. I can see that out the window.

    Then more adverts,

    Then a crap cover version by a crap artist of an old song that was crap the first time.

    Then more adverts

    then traffic report that says there's unavoidable congestion in the all the same places as it is every day.

    Then more adverts

    Then some moronic DJ who thinks he's funny chatting on and on and on and on inanely.

    Then more adverts

    Then a competition where idiots can phone in and answer trivia questions.

    Then more adverts

    Finally, if you listen long enough, they'll play the good track. But the DJ will talk over the first 30 seconds of it and then turn it off halfway through just as it gets to the most awesome bit.

    Then a whole load of self-congratulation about what a great radio station they are and how much music they play.

    Then the whole cycle repeats again until false.

    Life is too short to put up with that. Nowadays I just find I like on the internet, buy it, put it on a USB stick and listen to that instead. It's like radio, but with all the annoying shit removed.

    I have no problem with them turning off FM, but please could they turn off DAB too.

    1. mrfill

      Obviously never heard of 6music

      have you?

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Obviously never heard of 6music

        Does in work in the car?

        Oh wait, it's Internet.

      2. MJI Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Obviously never heard of 6music

        Yes the station which shut its rock show!

  23. David Pearce

    Other countries have not started DAB and will skip it completely to end up with IP radio

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      To say nothing of the US which isn't even trying and is instead using a different scheme (HD Radio) which works IN the FM band.

      That said, takeup has been slow here, too (you can retrofit an HD radio receiver into your car, but the demand just isn't there, and let's not start with portables), but at least they're not doing anything to the FM radio band anytime soon.

  24. Darren Barratt
    Thumb Up

    Technoluddites

    I never understand the complete opposition to the new that we invariably see here on the Reg, it's a new thing, and it's not quite perfect. That's not a reason to smash it up and throw it away.

    All my music listening these days is done through DAB. Internet radio is a nice idea but unsuitable for those with low bandwidth or on metered internet. Last I checked they haven't been able to meter the airwaves. Also the massive amount of choice is unwanted and unhelpful for the average (non-techy) radio listener.

    Embrace the change. With more people listening, it can only get better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Technoluddites

      DAB in cars is pants. FM in cars is very reasonable - and generally good enough.

      DAB at home is not generally relevant but...

      IP Radio at home is good, but...

      When the power's out, IP radio is useless and FM is best.

    2. Dances With Sheep
      Gimp

      Re: Technoluddites

      > I never understand the complete opposition to the new that we invariably see here

      Because DAB is shite.

      * Low bitrate

      * Eats batteries (AC power or car power essential)

      * Poor signal in large parts of UK, signal also prone to breakup

      * Few advantages over internet radio

      FM radio offers very good quality audio with low power consumption.

      DAB obviously has more choice of decent music stations. But then so does the internet.

      Also, there is a lot to be said for a basic low-powered radio service as a backup for when the shit hits the fan.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Technoluddites

      Except newer doesn't always = better.

      To use a well worn cliche if it ain't broke don't fix it

    4. TedF

      Re: Technoluddites

      "Embrace the change. With more people listening, it can only get better."

      No it won't.

      DAB is an old system abandoned by the rest of the World. We need the Government to acknowledge their mistake and adopt DAB+ with more thought of firmware updates in the future.

    5. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Technoluddites

      14 years.

      Not new.

      And crap.

      Nobody in IT hates "new" - what we hate is "crap". We might not deploy "new" immediately. We might wait to see if "new" is "crap". Windows 8 is "new" AND "crap". But, say, SteamBox - just "new" at the moment. If it's "crap", we won't buy it.

      They've had more than enough time to fix the problems and get it into the market. They haven't. DVB-T has gone through two iterations in that time (DVB-T and DVB-T2, otherwise known as Freeview HD) and that's got a hell of a lot more that could go wrong with it. And the convertors were a tenner each.

      If you can't make your technology take off in 14 years (!), i.e. when we were all running Windows ME and 2K - remember those? - then you have a serious problem.

    6. oddie

      Re: Technoluddites

      speaking only for myself: I don't hate DAB, who knows, at some point I might even get a dab radio.. if I can get one for a fiver or something like that...

      The point that most people have issue with is the shutting down of the FM transmitters.. which everyone seems to be quite happy with.

      By all means keep DAB, no point in making all those sets _completely_ useless, but don't touch my FM waves :(

    7. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Technoluddites

      I used to be all for DAB when it really was new. Over the years, I've bought two mains powered DAB radios, a car DAB radio which re-transmitted on FM, now no longer made, a pocket DAB radio, and an add-on for an iPod.

      Slowly, all of the interesting stations I used to listen to have dropped off DAB, or gone low-bit rate/mono (really - Planet Rock in MONO!).

      And to cap it all, there are vast swaths of no DAB reception where I live.

      I still keep the DAB radio in the car, but only for Radio 4 Extra. None of the others even get turned on any more. Instead, I normally listen to Radio 4 on FM or occasionally Radio 2 for some of the ex-Radio 1 DJs, and sometimes ClassicFM or Radio 3 when I'm in a classical mood. Other than that, it's music and podcasts stored on my phone.

      It's a technology that has failed, and should either be turned off or re-launched in a form common with the rest of the world.

    8. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Technoluddites

      >I never understand the complete opposition to the new that we invariably see here on the Reg,

      It is not opposition to the new that has people upset here, but rather the threat to FM. FM radio a, works, b, is cheap, c is reliable and d, is very frugal with batteries, and e, is already owned in our homes, cars and phones.

      I haven't any problem with DAB an *addition* to FM (though DAB doesn't sound great), but it just isn't suitable as a *replacement.*

      If you read other's comments here, you'll see that their views are generally informed from personal experience, and are not a knee-jerk reaction to all things new.

      > With more people listening, it can only get better.

      I'm not sure that will help the DAB sound quality issue much, or the way it eats through batteries. Granted, more listeners might bring down the price of the sets or extend DAB signal coverage though.

    9. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Technoluddites

      DAB isn't new. It was Digital for Digital Sake. Like trying to sell ISDN to most domestic users. Was good for small businesses though till ADSL arrived and Fax became nearly obsolete.

    10. MrZoolook

      Re: Technoluddites

      The opposition isn't against it being NEW, it opposition against an inferior product. DAB offers nothing to listeners of specialist FM broadcasts, is going to be expensive for those specialist stations to implement, and is generally of poorer sound quality.

      I'll never understand the "its new so it must be better" argument you seem to back.

  25. Wheaty73

    DAB does have a great station that isn't BBC

    Teamrock Radio.

    No adverts for Autoglass or confused dot com

    No "news" every half hour or indeed, at all.

    The weather rhyme.

    No adverts for other stations under the same umbrella (BBC I am looking at you)

    No chart "music" that is one song ahead or behind the other commercial stations playlist on a different channel.

    DJ's that don't prattle on as part of a "posse".

    No adverts at all.

    As a commercial station, god knows how they afford things, but they are bloody brilliant.

    The only downside to DAB is I live in darkest Derbyshire, and the signal gets blocked by hills sometimes.

    IP radio is all very well for numpties who have perfect internet connections at every point along their journey but you try driving between any two major metropolitan areas and see how quickly you lose signal.

  26. nematoad Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Well?

    OK, loved the video, I'm sold, where do I get this wonderful new service.

    "Sorry, you are out of luck and DAB range, so no goodies for you."

    "Right," you may ask "In what Third World country do you live, then?,"

    Answer. The UK.

    Bloody downs, pretty to look at but a bugger for radio, TV, mobile reception.

    And no plans that I can find to put it right.

  27. ecofeco Silver badge

    No problem in the US

    In the US, this is not problem as almost all FM stations have been consolidated, mostly by Clear Channel and turned into rank drivel. Oldies, bubblegum, Tejano, Jesus and mainstream (corporate) news.

    Even the local college station, the last bastion of new music and alternate news, was bought out in my region. By... another college and turned into 24/7 classical.

    Because when you are tired of listening to 30 year old music and mainstream canned news, you can listen to 300 year old music and mainstream canned news.

  28. petef

    Traffic info

    Traffic updates are only available on FM, not DAB, AFAIK.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DAB is crap,

    I can't get a signal where I can get FM..

    When you can't get a signal its nothing, with FM you get static but you can listen..

    I think Internet radio will take over from DAB soon, so keep FM, DAB would be useless for emergency broadcasts....

  30. Hilibnist
    WTF?

    Honest question...

    Once upon a time, radios were very basic and relayed a signal at about the same time it was broadcast.

    Now with FM, DAB, Sky and Internet radio, they simply aren't synchronised. Can anybody explain in simple terms why the newer the platform, the more lag is tolerated?

    More than one commentard has mentioned sports commentary... which is largely pointless if it's thirty seconds behind the action. For that one reason, none of these spanky new wirelesses holds a candle to Test Match Special on long wave.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Honest question...

      With digital, you have to convert from analogue to digital and back to analogue, which takes time, depends on the codec, but possibly as much as a second.

      With satellite, you have the time it takes for the signal to get to up to the bird and back down to the ground again, about another 0.3 seconds.

      With internet, you have to buffer the stream to allow for the fact that speed can vary and packets can get lost in transit. That can add up to 30 seconds.

      1. Vic

        Re: Honest question...

        With digital, you have to convert from analogue to digital and back to analogue, which takes time, depends on the codec, but possibly as much as a second.

        It's not the conversion from analogue to digital or digital to analogue. It's the *compression* that takes time.

        Compression occurs over a time window, so you can't even start the job until you've digitised that much audio. You necessarily delay by *at least* the time window in use.

        A second seems rather long, though; when I was doing videophones, it was generally perceived that 100ms+ delay made you sound evasive, and meant the other persion was more likely to distrust you...

        Vic.

  31. Mage Silver badge

    Choice

    The UNUSED useless for anything else spectrum exists to TRIPLE FM spectrum. A £5 (retail) adaptor (running for months on 2 x AA) would add the spectrum to existing FM sets. Some Asian models have covered this range since 1965 and cost less than £25 today!

    64 to 84MHz (used in Eastern Europe)

    175 to 195 MHz (basically unused except maybe the odd 2MHz of DAB since 1985 in UK and Ireland October 2012).

    The ONLY coherent argument ever for DAB has been more stations. This appears though to benefit the BBC and some national networks the most.

  32. Zebo-the-Fat
    Thumb Down

    Not a fan

    I had the pleasure of driving a hire car on Monday, it had a DAB radio fitted, so I thought it would be a good test to see if mobile DAB is as bad as everybody seems to think it is.

    I have no idea how good the quality of DAB in a car is, because having spent a day driving around between Doncaster and Lincoln I failed to pick up a single DAB station.

    So glad I didn't pay to have one fitted in my car!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not a fan

      To be fair I had a courtesy car about 18 months back (a Ford S-Max) and it too had DAB.

      I travelled thick end of 1000 miles in it over about 2 weeks and I can hand on heart say the DAB worked perfectly although the majority of its usage was in and about Manchester with a trip to the West Country thrown into the mix. There was no discernable loss of signal throughout the 200 mile drive South or on the return trip on the stations I listened too and I was actually surprised at how well it performed if I'm honest given how flaky my DAB radio can be at home!!

      1. anthonyp

        Re: Not a fan

        Did you read the car's handbook NW Cynic? My new car came with DAB so I thought I would try it. My first impressions were that it had excellent coverage, wherever I went I had good reception. Then I read the handbook and found that the radio defaults to FM if the DAB signal drops out. Listening carefully I realised that the majority of my listening was actually on FM which made the DAB facility rather useless so now I leave it on FM. I also have DAB on my home hi-fi but much prefer the quality of FM. Perhaps I should add that most of my listening is to Radio 3 with occasional visits to Classic FM when R3 goes into one of its peculiar modes.

  33. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    I don't think the power consumption will go down on DAB unless an optical system works

    No I've got no idea how to do that.

    But that still leaves the problem that DAB stations are a)Few b)Far between c)S**t.

  34. DCFusor Silver badge

    patented standard in US

    Well, here in the US there's also been a push for digital radio to replace FM. Just one problem. The mandated standard in our case is a pateneted and overcharged-for product. The local version of the Beeb (NPR) gives away a couple of those "cheap" $400 radios during fund drives. You can't get one for less, whereas you can get a perfectly good normal FM radio for peanuts. So, uptake is slow, and our government, run by crony capitalism like yours, has mandated we pay a particular patent holder (wonder what it cost them in bribes?).

    Could you have a similar situation in the UK? Inquiring minds want to know.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another vote for Sunny Govan Community Radio in Glasgow.

    The production is abismally shite (distorted mics, levels all to hell, stereo sometimes off), and the presenters may have got the charm and charisma of a speak and spell, but they can also have a msuci knowledge on part with Jon Peel for their respective fields.

    It doesnt care about frills, or polish, or markets. Listening to compelling shows, where genuinely passionate people play the likes of 1930's blues, traditional African roots, classic soul, and educate my punk ass to hidden musical gems is worth a thousand identikit commercial DAB chart stations.

    They can barely afford to stick out an FM signal as it is, and this switch could kill the one original station we have in the west, if not the whole, of Scotland.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The elephant on the airwaves

    Surely the most obvious thing, and which I've seen nothing written about, is that the moment the legal broadcasters are forced to move off FM, their frequencies will be filled with every pirate and his dog broadcasting whatever takes their fancy.

    The Government will then spend 20 years trying to shut them all down before it can re-use the frequencies for anything sensible (or indeed anything).

  37. Day-Jar View

    Another 'fix' that never gets completed...

    FM cover never has replaced AM cover reliably (try driving the Wiltshire Downs or the Marches), DAB cover is of course worse - and Internet cover close to non-existent.

    It would be good if the Emperor could could complete his wardrobe to the satisfaction of his subjects before he forced a new variant on us all.

    Another case of the techies getting bored and forcing their latest, slightly less great, idea without reference to its real-world utility.

  38. hoola Bronze badge

    FM has just about universal coverage unlike any of the more recent so called improvements.

    DTV - full of deadspots and if a bird farts near you aerial the picture breaks up.

    DAP - major holes incoverage

    GSM - not bad but if you are in an area with low population density it is in the lap of the gods.

    2G - Full of holes in coverage & the further you are away from a centre of population the worse it gets

    3G - Less voverage than 2G and one again only areas which generate money will be imporved

    4G - completely pointless. Universal coverage on 2G/3G should have been a requirement before splurging money and resources on this.

    As for choice, all DTV has done is provide another load of channels broadcasting junk. There are a few excception on BBC4 and rarely the additional Channel4 offerings but there is nothing of quality. There is this obsession with choice now that is turning everything into a race to the bottom.

    Schools competing with each other, particularly when they are increasing the age ranges only dilutes what they can do. The principal supermarkets have been in a frenzy of expansion as it is good for consumers to have a choice. They are all selling more or less the same stuff at the same prices and are an a battle for market share. The country is significant over-capcity in supermarkets but more and more are approved, mostly because of stretched local authorities being bribed with "Planning Gain".

    The general population sucks in this belief that increased choice, lowest price and instant everything is better. There is very little concept of genuine quality or value. Many know the cost of everything but understand the value nothing. This notion of choice has been pushed by successive governments and it is only a matter of time before the entire principal collapses and we end up with mediocre (or downright rubbish) monopolies.

  39. Sky

    Friends don't let friends buy DAB

    How do we prevent any switchover to DAB and the end of FM?

    Write to our MP?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No I' don't give a damn about local radio stations either. I'd be happy to just reliably get Radio 4 wherever I go in UK.

    The problem is that this, like so many government decisions, is London and SE centric. I expect in London you get good DAB and FM signals. In the North we have hills. At home (3 miles from Sheffield) I can get FM if I point the extended aerial in the right direction and don't move around the room similar with DAB. The difference between the two is how the signal distorts when the signal isn't good enough, FM goes crackly, DAB drops out. Internet radio is no use in the circumstances where radio really becomes a lifeline - power lines down due to gales, flooding or snow for example - 2 days with no food, no heating, - lets make that worse and ensure no access to radio for news to tell you if the roads are passable? (actually that is where local radio does provide some value, just have to put up with the wittering morons while waiting for a news update). Your broadband feed needs mains power and possibly phone lines which can be down, in any case my cable feed goes out 3 or 4 times a year without the need for adverse weather. Use your expensive mobile phone internet - until the battery runs down and assuming the local masts are still operational?

    Similarly in-care reception - FM is worse than AM. DAB - too few cars have DAB radios anyway but overall DAB coverage seems to be poorer than FM. AM signal covers most of the country better, partly because longer wavelength signals "bend" around obstacles better. I recommend a test drive along the A623 through Stoney Middleton.

    What's behind this is the prospect of releasing radio spectrum the Govt can sell for £BN and who cares about the north? Same with HS2 - Why not build the Northern bit first, improve travel there and maybe attract business away from the overcrowded south east rather than just focus on getting people into London. I suggest not independence for Scotland but for the entire north of Britain (after all Yorkshire has a larger population than Scotland), that way our circumstances may get some consideration.

  41. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge

    It's already started

    Until recently I could receive ClassicFM anywhere in the area I deliver to, which is about a 5 mile radius around Rugby. For the last few weeks I have noticed much reduced signal strength, causing drop outs and interference in low lying areas, especially under the railway tunnel. This problem is not confined to my employers' three year old van, I get the same effect in my private car, with a ten month old Sony FM receiver. I have reported this to the BBC, who gave me a very curt and, frankly, rather patronising answer, and have also contacted the Department of the Environment, but have so far received no reply. I think that the signal is being purposely degraded to encourage listeners to migrate to DAB, but in my case, it ain't gonna happen!

    1. GeoNeil
      Trollface

      Re: It's already started

      What's curt or patronising about the phrase "Classic FM is a commercial station that we at the BBC can't do anything about. Have you tried Radio 3? Or maybe writing to the people who actually run Classic FM?"

      What would you have wanted the BBC to say or do?

    2. Darren Barratt
      Thumb Up

      Re: It's already started

      Why not try contacting Sky and Virgin too? Or phone the Reg offices and demand answers.

      You'll probably get a better result by contacting Classic FM rather than random broadcasters though.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019