Saturday, 23 April 2011

Digital Radio UK on DAB radio switchover: talkin' loud and saying nothin'

DAB radio receiver sales

“Ford Ennals, Digital Radio UK’s chief executive, remains optimistic and says that the DAB [receiver] market will grow by 8-10% this year [2011].” [source]

FACTS: DAB/digital radio receiver sales volumes in 2010 were down on 2009, and in 2009 were down on 2008, although stakeholders disagree about the precise volumes and the percentage change:
“2010 was slightly down in digital radio sales volumes (-2.3%) compared to 2009” [Digital Radio UK update]
“’[DAB] volume sales were only marginally lower than the previous year (-0.7%) at 1.92 million units,’ explains Simon Foy, GfK senior account manager, CE.” [source]
• “DAB sales for 2010 were 1.91 million pieces” [source]

Digital radio listening reaching the 50% criterion

Ford Ennals: “I think you can see the listening criteria’s certainly being met in the next five years.” [WMF]

“Despite two thirds of listeners still using analogue radio, Ennals believes that, if you extrapolate digital radio’s recent growth pattern, the 50% target could be achieved by the end of 2014.” [source]

Ford Ennals: “We are likely to hit 50%, you know, in the next five years, I would say.” [DRS]

FACTS: When you extrapolate the radio industry’s RAJAR dataset, the 50% criterion is reached:
• Not by the government’s target of year-end 2013
• Not by Ford Ennals’ new, seemingly variable, targets of “the end of 2014” or “in the next five years”
• By year-end 2018, IF growth in digital listening is maintained at the current rate

Growth in DAB/digital radio listening

Ford Ennals: “We've seen overall in this year, in the last 12 months, each quarter, we've seen a 20% year-on-year growth of digital listening.” [WMF]

Ford Ennals: “We’ve seen 19 to 20 per cent listening growth in the year [2010].” [DRS]

Ford Ennals: “We see about 20% growth in 19 ... sorry, in 2010, it was 14% growth in 2009 and there was about 10% growth the previous year. So, you know, we see solid growth.” [WMF]

FACTS: According to the radio industry’s RAJAR dataset:
• 20%+ growth in digital listening was only evident in the last two quarters of 2010, not in “each quarter”
• Part of this apparent growth spurt in digital listening was the result of a sudden 5% to 6% increase in TOTAL radio listening recorded in the last two quarters of 2010

Consumer satisfaction with analogue radio

“DRUK’s Ennals is not convinced by the argument that most consumers are more than satisfied with analogue radio.” [source]

Ford Ennals: “FM is full and I think almost half of the FM spectrum is taken by 5 national services, there's only 1 national commercial service, so it's, you know, in terms of the ability to give consumers more choice, it is somewhat limited …” [WMF]

FACTS: Ofcom research has consistently demonstrated the high level of consumer satisfaction with existing radio services:
• Around 90% of consumers were ‘satisfied’ with the choice of radio stations in their area in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009

The 2015 digital radio switchover date

Ford Ennals: “I'm confident [digital radio switchover] is going to happen in the near future but I don't think there's a need to have a date and certainly we won't be communicating a date.” [WMF]

FACTS: Ennals and Digital Radio UK have been busy “communicating a date” for digital radio switchover to anyone who would listen. Just a few of many examples:
• Ford Ennals: “We are confident digital listening can reach 50 per cent by 2013.” [source]
• Ford Ennals: “We have set a course to double listening and expand coverage by 2013, and to switchover by the end of 2015." [source]
• Ennals stressed that a target date of 2015 was “challenging but achievable” [source]
“Ford Ennals CEO of Digital Radio UK had positive comments for the 2015 switchover date set by government and told guests to Radio Festival that plans were already in motion to meet the ambitious date.” [source]
• Ford Ennals: “The radio industry believes that these two criteria can be met at the end of 2013, for a proposed switchover to take place in 2015.” [source]
“2015 is ‘achievable’ for an analogue-to-digital switchover, according to industry body Digital Radio UK.” [source]

[sources: WMF = Westminster Media Forum, 11 April 2011; DRS = Digital Radio Stakeholders, 3 February 2011] [thanks to Darryl Pomicter]

1 comment:

Ken Fletcher said...

Digital Radio Switchover may have to be achieved by 2015 IF, as earlier indicated, OFCOM starts charging for Frequency Space of Broadcasting. Digital Transmission is at least 50% more economical in Bandwith, often probably more. As Analogue TV 'showed' Frequency Space for this form of Transmission was far too 'Greedy', although this will be less with Radio, it is still a significant Factor, as Digital Multiplexes can take anything from 6 to 10 Stations on one frequency.