As far as radio goes, we have the best of both worlds at the moment – digital and analogue. But the more we listen to DAB, the closer we get to losing FM. If you can’t afford to switch, will you be left in radio silence?
I like digital radio and listen regularly on DAB and the internet, but FM is still very much in my life, whether it’s through my mobile phone or in my car.
With listening figures holding one of the keys to national radio stations switching to DAB, am I driving myself towards a future of an expensive in-car conversion?
When will we switchover to DAB?
National radio stations won’t be disappearing from FM for a while – there are targets to be met before the switchover is announced and it still won’t happen for two years after that.
A target announcement date has been set for 2015, although some even think that’s optimistic. According to the government’s Digital Radio Action Plan, before Britain’s allowed to switchover to DAB, not only must coverage be comparable to FM, but 50% of all radio listening should be on digital.
‘Digital listening’ includes tuning in to the radio via the net, on digital TV and on DAB. And despite there being all of these ways to listen digitally, it’s still doubtful whether we’ll be anywhere near 50% of listening by 2015.
DAB’s been around for more than a decade and uptake is only at around 25%, so there are still loads of people to convert in the space of two years. And what about the other 50% of people who are still listening to FM, are they going to be forced to switch?
I’m fortunate enough to be able to receive a DAB signal at home, but that’s not necessarily the case for everyone. And even I can’t get it everywhere in my house, with FM coverage still being a tad better. So as commenter Ian Fair asks, is it worth the country switching over at all?
‘So why are we proposing to change a system that works for a system that isn’t better? Why not… just leave things as they are?’
In-car DAB still a problem
Digital radio in cars is a whole other matter as Richard Headland pointed out in a previous DAB Conversation. It’s not cheap to install a DAB radio in your car and many manufacturers still aren’t putting them in as standard. Plus, coverage on the move isn’t great, as commenter Gavin Blacket pointed out:
‘When [DAB] works, it’s fine, but I could barely go a whole journey without the signal cutting in and out – and that’s in an area of the country where the coverage is supposed to be good!’
With many decent digital radios currently costing around £100 and in-car conversions being a similar price, can we all afford to convert? Will coverage improve enough for cars?
It can’t be acceptable for those of us who can’t afford to switch to be left without radio. In which case will the government start handing digital radios out, or will it decide to keep national FM stations even longer?
Are you willing to pay to switch from FM to DAB?
No (51%, 224 Votes)
Eventually, but not until I have to (24%, 105 Votes)
I already have (23%, 98 Votes)
Yes, I'm planning to soon (2%, 8 Votes)
Total Voters: 435