As if there wasn’t enough to deal with in switching over TV from analogue to digital, there’s a new recommendation in town: that DAB radio is the format of choice for radio and should replace FM broadcasts by 2020.
That’s according to an interim report by The Digital Radio Working Group, which suggests that DAB should be the primary way of delivering digital radio because the UK has a well-developed DAB market, and it can be freely received once appropriate equipment is purchased.
The report states that it’s too expensive for broadcasters to transmit programmes in both analogue and digital, but the move to digital must be made wherever possible because analogue radio “risks becoming increasingly irrelevant, particularly to young listeners, as consumers’ expectations for interactivity, quality and choice grow.”
Plenty needs to happen before DAB exclusivity is viable. For a start, only about 90% of the UK population can currently receive DAB. Less than one in five people currently listens to DAB radio, and in addition, there’s very low take-up of DAB receivers in cars – one of the most popular places to listen to radio.
Local radio services would be able to continue to use the FM spectrum, as it’s currently more cost effective. Additionally, radio stations on the AM spectrum would be moved to FM. Though the 2020 date is mentioned, the Group realises that it’s impractical to set a firm deadline when there are so many factors to iron out.
I can’t help wondering if DAB will still be a relevant technology by the time we reach the end of the next decade. It’s likely to be much cheaper for broadcasters to stream programmes over the Internet, and I’d expect to see many more standalone devices capable of picking up Internet radio.
Interim Report (via Gizmo Hacker)