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Radio Silence?



From yesterday’s Guardian

“The government intends to switch national and regional radio stations over to digital transmission from FM and AM by 2015. But according to an influential committee of peers, there is “public confusion and industry uncertainty” over the plans.

Between 50m and 100m analogue radios will only be able to pick up community stations after the switchover, while car radios will need converters. Critics such as the Guardian’s Jack Schofield say those leading the digital switchover have built their plans around an already-obsolete system (DAB) and have failed to provide listeners with a compelling reason to invest in new sets. The BBC’s recently announced axing of 6 Music and Asian Network – on top of the closure of many commercial DAB stations – has weakened the push towards digital. Last year, 66% of all listening was analogue, 21% digital – half on DAB and half through PCs – and 13% unspecified.”

Nothing is guaranteed to bring out the Luddite conservative in me than stuff like this. I listen to a lot of radio, mostly Radio Scotland and Radio 4,  much of it speech based. At work I have an old music centre which is probably 35 years old, great tone which I use every day. At home I have various radios. The most used is a Sony portable which I can take from room to room. Heck it even picks up Medium Wave for the Radio Scotland fitba’. I have a wee Philips MP3 with radio which I listen to whilst out walking the dog.

Andrew Harrison supported the change to digital on the Today programme yesterday by stating that ‘ the way we consume (radio) is changing’. Don’t you just hate shit like this? When did listeners become “consumers”? When did passengers (listen to the announcements at stations and airports) become customers? Christ! I’ve even heard patients referred to as customers in a doctor’s waiting room!

As usual when the government in their wisdom declare something as obsolete it’ll be the most vulnerable in society who suffer most. Old folk and blind people (two groups who rely on radio rather a lot) will have to shell out a fortune on new sets and will be confused on how to tune the things. At a time when we are trying to reduce waste, I wonder how much space on landfill 100 million radios or more will take up?

I already have a DAB at home. Thankfully it also picks up FM because the DAB signal is pisspoor most of the time.

Finland and Sweden abandoned similar switchover plans in 2005 and shut down their DAB network. Germany has binned their schedule too.

I wonder, reading the Guardian article again if this is an opportunity for community radio to really take off and ease the pressure on landfill?