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Radio Amnesty

To the Press:

Your readers may have been made aware of a Radio “amnesty” starting on 22nd May 2010 and running until 26th June whereby analogue portable radios can be handed in to certain retailers and a discount provided against the purchase of a brand new digital (DAB) radio. Some parallels have been drawn with the car scrappage scheme but, unfortunately, there are none.

Whereas the car scrappage scheme was designed to replace old, inefficient “bangers” with something up-to-the-minute and efficient, the radio amnesty scheme is designed to replace efficient radios which provide excellent sound quality with ones which have poorer sound quality and some even have power-hungry energy requirements when compared to the AM/FM radios they are expected to replace. The technology used is MP2 – 1980s digital technology - the forerunner of the now generally available MP3.

For the first time since its foundation even the BBC, generally regarded as providing the standard of radio broadcasting to which the rest of the world should strive, is supporting a massive reduction in sound quality.

Under current proposals instigated by the last government (unless the new coalition government intervenes) when 50% of radio listening is via digital media then FM transmitters will be turned off for national transmissions (e.g. Radios 1,2,3,& 4, Classic FM, etc.) The target for this is 2015 hence the newly announced incentive scheme to get people to buy DAB radios.

Currently, according to the industry, there are approximately eleven million DAB radios in the UK (some of which are never tuned to the DAB stations but left tuned to FM) and 120-150 million FM receivers. The FM receivers will become virtually redundant except for local stations unless the current policy is reversed.

By some perverse logic the “powers that be” feel that the owners of the eleven million DAB radios deserve priority over the 93% of the population who are happy with the current radio broadcasting arrangements. It should also be noted that there are very few cars on the road with DAB radios so if the 2015 target is reached drivers will be restricted to listening to local radio unless they are prepared to invest in, at the minimum, a self-install DAB conversion kit starting at £69 – at their own expense of course.

Even more disturbing are the claims that DAB listening permits you to: “Listen to your favourite stations hiss and crackle free in digital quality.” as though you might expect something akin to listening to a CD. When challenged on the subject of “quality” Chris Goymer, responding to an enquiry on the subject on the “Get Digital Radio” website, replied: "On any marketing material or radio ads we make, it is never said that sound quality is better than FM." Surely this must make one wonder what, then, is the point of the changeover particularly when DAB+ can deliver all that the digital radio industry perceives that the public requires but with much better quality and more efficiency. Unfortunately DAB+ is not going to be adopted in the UK at present so if your readers are tempted to buy a DAB radio they should ensure that, as well as FM, it will be capable of receiving DAB+ just in case the radio industry eventually comes to its senses.

In summary a universally available, high quality radio system – FM – is to be replaced by one which is less efficient; has poorer sound quality; is based on outdated technology; and is going to cost your readers some of their hard-earned income.

If these proposals concern your readers then they should contact their local MP who may not even be aware of the details of this retrogressive policy.

#128004 • 07/01/2010 8:12pm by Barry Price • Vote: Up votes (26) Down votes (9)