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M'Lordships to save FM radio?

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Two members of the House of Lords have tabled amendments to the Digital Britain bill, urging Ofcom to consider the effects of the proposed digital radio switchover on analogue listeners and community stations.

Lords Howard and de Mauley would oblige Ofcom to consider "the needs of local and community radio stations" and "the needs of analogue listeners".

It isn't just DAB, but digital radio in general that's proving to be a problem all over Europe. Germany has stopped funding DAB and postponed the move to DAB+, and although official policy of moving radio from analogue transmission remains, it isn't clear how this will be achieved.

"DAB – although vital – is in intensive care and living a sad, hospitalised existence," admitted the director of Deutschlandradio (German national public radio) Willi Steul [translation here].

France has postponed its digital radio transmissions for a year, leading to widespread skepticism that it will ever launch. The French have adopted DMB, not DAB+, although the former is around 40 per cent less efficient, according to Steve Green.

In the UK, notes radio analyst Grant Goddard, Ofcom found that 64 per cent of households say they are unlikely to buy a DAB radio in the next 12 months. Making inroads into the 100m+ installed base of analogue radios is going to be slow; the Digital Radio Development Bureau reckons the 10 millionth DAB radio was sold last month.

DRDB chief Tony Moretta told us recently that boosting the power of DAB transmissions and building in-fill is the way to win back consumer confidence. ®

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