Sunday, 3 October 2010

Shameless Book Plug

Apologies for the interruption to my normal radio sector analyses, but I wanted to let you know that a book of my writings about DAB radio was published this week. It collects together 99 of the essays that have appeared in this blog over the last two years concerning the digital radio switchover issue in the UK. The period between 2008 and 2010 was a critical ‘make or break’ time for DAB which ended with the legislation of the Digital Economy Act. But have any of the committees, consultations, working groups, reports and recommendations from this period made any difference to the slowing take-up of DAB in the UK? No.

Leslie Burrage, chief executive of Roberts Radio, one of the main UK manufacturers of radio receivers, said recently:

“I’ve been surprised by how many of my peers at the golf club have adopted internet radio and some of those are people who can’t even get a decent FM signal, never mind DAB. The key issue with DAB and the migration to FM is going to be dictated by the speed at which at the motor car can be migrated, and there is no easy solution. If the migrations takes 20 or 25 years to go as it did from FM, the future is just possibly wi-fi.”

Digital radio switchover seems doomed and the only people still talking it up are those who have a direct stake in it, either through their financial investments, or from earning their living from talking it up. Because the UK started on the DAB switchover trail earlier than other European countries, our experiences have relevance to markets that started later on the DAB journey.

This week, it has been interesting to see the interest my book has spurred in markets such as Norway, Denmark and Italy where, like the UK, DAB is still being pursued despite widespread consumer indifference. In Norway, a news
story about the local receiver market appeared in the newspaper Aftenposten headlined ‘Customers do not want DAB: FM is still selling like hotcakes’. The buyer at a Norwegian electronics store said that DAB was already a flop and he was quoted: “So far, this year, according to industry sales statistics to which I have access, only one DAB radio has been sold for in-car installation”.

Many countries are awaiting some kind of government decision as to whether digital radio switchover will still be a policy goal. In Norway, a government report on the DAB issue is to be published later this year. In France, a government report on the financial model for digital radio was meant to have been unveiled this week, but was not. In Germany, the 21 September deadline by which state and commercial radio was meant to have submitted a joint plan for government funding to re-launch a national DAB+ multiplex passed without agreement and has had to be extended to 15 December 2010. One German
report said “it is highly doubtful whether the negotiating parties will agree by the [new] deadline.” Another report said: “experts suspect that this is the last chance for DAB+.”

In Italy, radio stations that have started broadcasting in DAB and DRM are angry at the lack of digital radio receivers in their shops and have
turned to UK manufacturer Pure Digital for help. One Italian report asked: “Do people feel the need to replace their old FM radios? Especially in the era of the smartphone, internet radio and applications, the answer seems obvious.” In Spain, the existing DAB radio licences that were initially issued for a ten-year period in 2000 have just been extended to fifteen years, in the face of widespread consumer apathy towards DAB radio.

It is evident that the digital radio switchover issue continues to generate a lively debate in many European countries. My hope is that our experience in the UK can help other countries make an informed decision about the adoption of a realistic plan for ‘the future of radio’ in their own markets.

DAB DIGITAL RADIO: LICENSED TO FAIL
GRANT GODDARD
Radio Books, London
ISBN 978 0 9564963 0 0
paperback 297x210 mm, 314 pages
1 October 2010
book excerpts
here
more information http://www.radiobooks.org
available from online book retailers including Amazon

Book plug over.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Grant

Regarding your August report and slide 10. Commercial radio has not had any compelling product since Oneword, Primetime and The Jazz.

Really the only stable (overall) growth has been because of BBC Radio 7 and in Leeds because of Yorkshire Radio.

By the way, The Jazz was a proper Jazz station not like Jazz FM, which I understand is soon to come off DAB.

Good luck with the book

Anonymous said...

As I recall Jazz FM has never been available on the MXR Yorkshire regional multiplex.

I have done an internet search and I cannot find any reference to a proposal to remove it from DAB in London, West Midlands, N West England & Glasgow. Indeed their website still has a DAB FAQ section. Perhaps you have inside knowledge?

The point about what constitutes a "proper" jazz station is purely subjective, just as many people consider Classic FM to be a light music station rather than a proper classical station.

As for the point about compelling commercial digital radio content I would point to Absolute 80s & Planet Rock, as well as LBC (for those outside London), although there clearly isn't enough compelling content on DAB (BBC or commercial).

Anonymous said...

Yorkshire Radio took over the Jazz FM position on the Yorkshire MUX.

Jazz FM has never been a Jazz station but ‘the Jazz’ showed great promise and was the station I was referring to.

The company that leased Jazz FM from GMG is now trying to raise new money.