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April 06, 2011


James Cridland


Thanks for the US-centric words. I deliberately quoted the Norwegian TV switchover experience, because I'm more familiar with it (and the cable situation is very different there). A set-top box costs the same as a new digital radio, so it is a very valid comparison.

Yes, we all have lots of analogue radios. But we tend to do the majority of our listening on one, or two, sets: for me, it's the one in the kitchen and the one in the car. Once you change those over, most of your listening is covered - and you're more likely to begin changing the rest, when you can afford to, since you'll begin to miss the extra programming you can get on your digital set.

The future of radio is multi-platform - a mix of HD, FM, IP and satellite. There is no need to be negative towards one platform or another - people want content, not platforms. DAB has its problems, as FM and AM do; but broadcast radio will continue to form the vast majority of radio listening for at least the next ten years: if you think the choice you get on FM/AM is enough, then that's fine, but many disagree.


Technology be it digital, stereo, quad or whatever is NOT going to save radio. Programming will. Program the stations well and people will listen. Do what you're doing now and people will run in the other direction (as they are!) and certainly NOT pay extra for a new radio to get more of the same. Sheesh, it isn't rocket science!

Richard Harker

James, using the analogy of digital television adaptation isn't very helpful. First, there isn't a radio converter equivalent to the television converter. Secondly, in the US, most TV viewing is done via cable or satellite, so the digital switchover wasn't even noticed by most viewers. The small proportion of over-the-air viewers who needed a converter could find an inexpensive one at virtually any store. There was even a government program to provide converters to low-income people. Thirdly, the sheer number of radios compared to televisions (especially in the car) means that many people will opt to go without radio rather than replace the majority of their analog radios. That is less likely to happen with television.

Mark O.

P.S. People in Britain like to complain a lot, and have a tendency towards pessimism, so one shouldn't mistake the widespread grumbling in print about DAB for a failure of the technology to catch on. As has been demonstrated by the relatively quick uptake of DAB (from a level of zero around the turn of the century), Brits also tend to be fairly rapid adopters of new technology.

Mark O.

DAB listening in Britain is due to increase significantly over the next couple of years because: (1) the automobile market leader, Ford, is making DAB radios in cars standard with the 2012 model year, with other manufacturers set to follow by 2013, and (2) the current rollout in Britain of new, more user-friendly, DAB+ technology will clear up uncertainties which have recently constrained growth in this sector. I live in Britain, and my wife and I haven't listened to an analog (FM/AM) service since 2001, when we had our first DAB tuners installed in our car and our home. Since then, all of our listening has been via DAB and the Net. We're satisfied digital listeners!

James Cridland


"The latest estimate puts UK DAB digital radio set penetration at 36% of population, and about 25% of listening."

This isn't true. The 25% of TSL here relates to all forms of digital radio.

James Cridland

Grant's negativity is certainly one view, albeit a minority one.

But it might be instructive to look at digital switchover for television, and see how reluctant people are to change there. Here's how it worked in Norway:

10 weeks away from analogue switchoff, only 25% of people had bought a digital box

3 weeks away, 70% of people had bought one. 25% said they were thinking about it.

At switchoff, nobody reported seeing blank screens.

For digital radio, switchover in 2015 was always only going to happen if certain criteria had been reached by 2013. So we'd not started telling people that analogue radio was being switched off yet: and as the Norwegian example shows (and the US, too?), people always wait till the last minute anyway.

Oh - and DAB accounts for 15% of all radio TSL already in the UK. The internet accounts for just 3%.


Glenda Shrader Bos
Managing partner
Harker Group
Cell 919.369.8724


I ran across this post today by John Anderson of DIYMedia, back in 2007:

"FCC: Market to Decide Fate of HD Radio"

"Said Commissioner Copps: By adopting a blanket authorization for digital radio, this decision confers a free pass on others to take their spectrum, bypass local communities and run more of the canned and nationalized programming that is all too common on our consolidated analog system today and which is, truth be told, responsible for many of broadcast radio’s current problems."


Very surprised to see dissent by one of the Commissioners. Copps saw it coming back in 2007.


An excellent site to monitor is the UK's Grant Goddard, who published today about the dismal DAB radio sales:


He's even written a book that the DAB switchover will never happen. Certainly, there is no chance of a switchover happening with HD Radio in the US.

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