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Analogue radio could be history by 2020 . . .if Ofcom wins the day RADIO: SWITCHOVER RADIO: SWITCHOVER Optimistic projections on digital listening suggest end of MW and FM
[Final Edition]
Sunday Herald - Glasgow (UK)
Author: Vass, Steven
Date: Apr 22, 2007
Start Page: 10
Section: Business
Abstract (Document Summary)

You would probably need to have switched off medium wave and announced that FM is going to be switched off to get to 90-per cent [digital radio listening] by 2017." Ken Garner, a radio expert from Glasgow Caledonian University, is more unequivocal. "The forecasts are totally delusional and probably driven by wishful thinking by the government about what it would like to do with the analogue frequencies. The numbers are based on hoped-for take up and not on evidence." The FM frequencies are certainly appealing in these days of spectrum auctioning, even if Ofcom was careful to stress last week that switching off the signals is just one of various options on the table.

Another issue has been quality. As Mark Mulligan, a vice- president of Jupiter Research, says: "The sound quality is significantly inferior to that of FM. For example, Radio 3 listeners have complained vociferously about it - You are never going to attract the audio buffs." Not everyone agrees that quality is a problem, but it is harder to argue with complaints about weak signals. This does not just lead to the background noise of FM radio, but means that the station cuts out altogether. There are also those that point out that the UK's digital audio broadcast (DAB) standard of digital radio has been overlooked in many countries in favour of more recent formats, and that buyers risk being saddled with outdated technology.

My feeling is that if they haven't been able to make it work, I am not sure Channel 4 will be able to." All the same, he says that digital radio will eventually become the main format because everyone from the manufacturers to Ofcom have invested too much to let it fail. As Mark Mulligan says: "Ofcom's forecast is as much a statement of intent as anything." If that is true, the real question is what it will have to do to get the public to accept the digital future. Whatever the rhetoric about the public being allowed to decide, many believe the government and Ofcom will be hoping that Digital Two does the trick.

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