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Thanks for starting this campaign. Before I discovered it I thought I was the only one that cared about FM – obviously not!

I was prompted to look on the internet for any interest, following the much publicised recent Archers episode that was only broadcast on the digital Radio 4 Extra station depriving, according to Roger Bolton’s BBC Feedback program, two thirds of Archers listeners. I am not an avid Archers fan, but for the first time in over fifty years of radio listening wrote to the Feedback program to express my concern regarding the principle of withholding the ‘best’ bits of radio from FM listeners – this could only have been an attempt to try to force people to move to digital.

I again e-mailed the Feedback program the following week after it highlighted many listeners concerns about digital radio in general in its Friday (19th July 2013) episode and for what its worth have copied it below:

Dear Feedback,

I listened with great interest to contributors to your latest program on the subject Digital Radio and in particular to the Roger Bolton / Ford Ennals interview.

None of the answers that Mr. Ennals gave to Roger Bolton’s questions however were either convincing or satisfactory – indeed his answers were only what I would have expected from a Consumer Marketing person who had landed the job of palming off digital radio to the British listening public.

You will have gathered by now that I am not a Digital radio fan…

This is not because I am against digital technology - on the contrary, digital photography for instance is fantastic and who would want to go back to using VHS or Betamax Video Recorders, but digital radio, as it currently stands in the UK, is different – i.e. it is inferior to the FM system.

There are many issues with digital radio in the UK, the main two being coverage and audio quality.

The coverage problem could theoretically be fixed by spending, or should I say squandering, millions of pounds of licence payers money (which I for one would strongly object to), but even if 100% coverage were to be achieved, the audio quality would still be inferior to that of the FM system.

So why bother? We have in the UK a perfectly good FM radio broadcasting system that covers over 98% of the Nation, has excellent and consistent audio quality (unlike digital radio which can be anything from mediocre to poor depending on the bit rate used at any given time), offers four National Stations, dozens and dozens of local BBC and Commercial stations from the Orkneys to Lands End and a hundred or more Community stations. One of the selling points of Digital is that it offers more choice of listening, but how much choice does anyone need!

In addition to this, FM receivers are significantly cheaper than their digital counterparts, much more user friendly, battery economy of FM portables is VERY significantly better than digital and the BBC time signal is perfectly accurate.

Mr. Ennals knows all this of course, but it is in his interest to keep quiet about it all and to flog digital for all he’s worth.

He said he expected that ‘’in the next two to three years the majority of all listening would be to digital because people are choosing to do that because they like it and prefer it to analogue’’ Really? Digital radio has been available in the UK for the best part of two decades now, but the number of people who use it is still only about thirty percent, so what makes him think that people will suddenly switch to digital in the next couple of years even if coverage were to be significantly improved?

It sounded to me like he was whistling in the wind, but what really concerned me were his comments about FM being maintained and becoming the home of ultra local services and community services and when pressed by Roger Bolton about FM listeners losing Radio 4 stated ‘’ at some point, yes, the major National Services will be moving wholly to DAB and to receive them you will need a DAB receiver’’
He might as well have finished off the sentence by saying ‘whether you like it or not’

I have no objection to digital radio running alongside FM, for those who want it as an extra service, but it should be used for just that (for local and community services etc).

The BBC National services should and must remain available to all licence payers on all platforms.

To try to force people to downgrade to DAB is nothing short of blackmail intended only to line the pockets of a few whilst ignoring the wishes of the majority of the listening public.

Mr. Ennals would do well to remember who funds the BBC and for that matter who is paying part of his salary.

I wonder if in a future program you could get Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey to clarify what will be the future availability of the major BBC National Stations and who will have the last say on the matter?

Regards,

Michael Riley (Manchester).

I wholeheartedly agree with other contributors to the Save FM Campaign that switching off FM is madness and would deprive millions of listeners from enjoying what has been taken for granted and paid for by them through their licence fees for many decades.

#128118 • 24/07/2013 2:33pm by mike • Vote: Up votes (5) Down votes (3)

boyersJust bought a very upmarket DAB set. The signal quality is shit. It simply cuts out. Write to your mp now. Politicians are too thick in uk to make technical decisions! Nearly 100 % of their lousy it plans have turned to dust!

#128117 • 20/07/2013 10:32pm by boyers • Vote: Up votes (5) Down votes (2)

Recently repaired a Roberts r707.It sounds fantastic for a portable radio on bbc radio 4 and bbc radio 3 on FM.I know the batteries will last for at least 6 months using the set for 5 or 6 hours a day. So ,one set built 40yrs ago,energy efficient tuned to one transmitter that covers millions of homes and the signal doesn't degrade when carrying it about..I can not understand in any way the argument for dab and switching of band 2 broadcasting...To mean it is a money making exercise and nothing more!!!!!!!!!!!!

#128116 • 14/06/2013 7:03am by Blobby12uk • Vote: Up votes (5) Down votes (2)

We need FM to stay. DAB is useless around my area. My car, although 6 years old has Sat Nav built in but no DAB. This also controls the A/C and heating. So if they switch off FM I have a perfectly good car which I can't listen to radio in. I guess the CD's will just get more use instead. Why can't the goverment just leave things alone?

#128114 • 07/05/2013 1:19pm by Ads • Vote: Up votes (5) Down votes (2)

FM radio should not be terminated as the transmission we have now and to waste money on an out of date radio system as DAB is very silly very wasteful. There are still numerous places in the west country that can not receive dab. The government have known for over several years that dab was poor and DAB+ was the system that should have been employed. FM radio does not interfere with digital TV, but 4G is going to cost the government highly as many people in areas near TV transmitters will lose their signals or suffer heavy interference. It is time for some common sense, something that politicians lack!

#128098 • 23/03/2013 6:49pm by charles76 • Vote: Up votes (6) Down votes (0)

The powers that be must be getting pretty desperate at the very low take up of digital radio sets (fortunately most can receive VHF FM and some still MW). Anyone with a decent pair of ears can tell the difference between the clean full range sound of an FM transmission - that's why Classic FM started on it for very good reason. Even they are carrying the silly pro-digital adverts which are desperately trying to convince us to go out- dumb down- and buy digital. We must convince our government to leave the FM set up alone.

#128087 • 20/02/2013 10:18pm by Henry H • Vote: Up votes (5) Down votes (2)

Complete and utter madness to switch to an inferior system . I have two "good quality"systems in my house , but we all prefer the sound quality of FM , and use this instead . Will the government be offering a "buy back scheme" for the millions of pefectly good FM receivers out there . Some of these will be being purchased as i write this !

#128072 • 10/02/2013 9:56am by dave the rave • Vote: Up votes (5) Down votes (2)

There still seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the switchover to DAB and the switching off of the FM national frequencies. Despite building opposition the government seems to be strengthening its resolve to ditch FM by 2015. They have significantly changed the goalposts in recent announcements, on the one hand recommending manufacturers of radios including the ability to receive FM broadcasts, but on the other hand they now say that the measure is 50% listening to “digital” rather than 50% listening to DAB. So in other words they know that DAB will never reach the coverage required, digital radio services can be had by so many other means, internet, sky, Freeview, etc. They still intend to make broadcasts available to FM just not the main stations that we want. They also announced that a decision will be made in 2013 not 2015. Despite more than a decade of investment and industry promotion, digital radio, including DAB, online and digital TV, currently accounts for 29.2% of all radio listening. There is not a chance that there will be the take up required so the government is going to happen no matter what.

Personally I don’t know why they just don’t keep the FM system as it is and ditch DAB which is an out of date system not able to keep up with the digital services that people will demand and enjoy by accessing services via the internet. I live in an area of Cumbria that they will never extend DAB coverage to. We were the first to get Freeview TV, but no commercial stations. Broadband is either appalling or non-existent, but we do get FM radio…. for now.

I am 57 years old I have enjoyed listening to FM radio for the majority of those years. I have a venerable NAD 4300 tuner in my main hi-fi system which has given excellent service for many years and has many more left in it, as does my 1978 Hacker Consort which I listen to in the bathroom, my Sony tranny that resides in the kitchen, and my Grundig yatchboy in the bedroom (wife permitting). We also have an old radio in the shed and of one in each of our 2 cars. These are irreplaceable and next to useless if the government has its way, which I believe they will despite all opposition and the outrageous cost to consumers. In many rural areas, where it is not commercially worthwhile to provide the necessary infrastructure to enable good access to digital services, the withdrawal of national stations from FM will mean a regression to pre WWII standards.

#128064 • 09/01/2013 8:51pm by gz00 • Vote: Up votes (6) Down votes (1)

The digital switch-over is ridiculous. FM is more than fit for purpose. This is just another example of where the excuse of moving forward to 'A Digital Britain' is being used to force the public to spend money on new digital radios, forcing them to dispose of perfectly good FM radios that have been working for years. I wonder what the next thing will be once this is over...

#128063 • 04/01/2013 2:38pm by Mr No Name... • Vote: Up votes (5) Down votes (0)

Even though I like internet radio, I still enjoy shortwave radio , direct reception from a foreign country is still a great thrill, Radio Australia stil comes through when condidtions are right. As far back as the 1920's people would listen on shortwave to programs from other countries , concerts from New York were enjoyed in the U.K. sometimes on homemade equipment and with very good audio quality rivaling FM (there was no audio compression/processing or resricted bandwith as in today's medium wave and long wave transmissions). Then came mono FM which was developed further to provide stereo. Now in 2012 over 100 years later after most developements in radio were welcomed as progress, we have the DAB radio system which is without doubt useless. Poor reception with signal drop outs even in a strong signal area , poor audio quality that is so rough it can not be tolerated for long, heavy power drain making it impractical for portable use. The one "advantage" is the greater number of stations available, the only problem is that the extra staions are not wanted, surveys show that listeners are happy with the choice avalable on MW,LW & FM. Only a fool that does not like listening to radio would promote this system. What would Marconi say about it ?

#128060 • 29/12/2012 11:16pm by RADIO FAN • Vote: Up votes (4) Down votes (1)

I think it's a bl**dy con. DAB simply does not deliver the goods. The sound quality is terrible

#128059 • 17/12/2012 1:05pm by Geoff. • Vote: Up votes (5) Down votes (2)

Inferior coverage, inferior sound quality, outdated technology, even DAB+, no logical reason for the public to change. The government (any government) never learns, if it's not broken don't fix it. Later technology isn't always better than what we already have. Do things because they are needed, not just because you can! Or because (in the case of the government) it might bring in a few bob. But I expect it will happen eventually, it's just the government doing what any government does best. . . Cost you money, then waste it!

#128057 • 07/12/2012 11:23pm by Iron Dutchess • Vote: Up votes (5) Down votes (0)

It's ridiculous. 'Digital' radio counts the internet, meaning we might as well switch radio off altogether rather than switch to dab. Analogue has a better signal , so what's the point of switching!

#128056 • 20/11/2012 2:49pm by bedpol • Vote: Up votes (5) Down votes (2)

Simple analysis: Digital television 20% good content 80% dross all spread over multiple channels with poor signal quality. If all the content was placed on 5-7 channels it would remain world class - both BBC and Commercial.

Digital radio appears to be heading the same way as the tv - a celebration of mediocrity on the lead channels and a few gem specialisms hidden on the "xtra's"

This situation almost overrides the energy and waste issues - if we can be dulled enough with multiple channels - thus avoiding any occasional cultural challenge - then the sheer waste of switchover will go unchallenged.

Stay sharp.

#128052 • 09/11/2012 9:20am by ifitworks • Vote: Up votes (4) Down votes (1)

Can anyone tell me what the "benefit" of DAB will be to the many millions like me who are very happy with their FM radio, very happy listening to the few stations that we do and have no wish to waste hard-earned cash on both a new transistor radio and a new car radio.

Come on, Ford Ennals. Name one benefit for me. You cannot, can you.

#128044 • 17/08/2012 11:57am by Londonman • Vote: Up votes (4) Down votes (1)

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