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BBC radio chief: You may experience a little pain (but not much)

Davie acknowledges FM loyalty

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Tim Davie, the BBC's director of audio and music, has spelled out the difficulty of the digital switchover in an intriguing interview.

"People love radio. They are very happy with their FM radio. Why on earth would you change?" asked Davie.

DAB simply doesn't offer a clear enough choice. The answer, he said, was unique content, and more capable radio sets. Davie was being interviewed on BBC Ulster.

The interviewer asked why Davie couldn't give DAB radio a filip by taking popular shows – such as The Archers – and running them exclusively on DAB.

"Imagine my inbox!" exclaimed Davie, as he explained that the BBC was obliged to provide universal service to licence fee payers. "The strategy for digital, where we are taking things away, is not going to work."

"My approach would very much be that I do want you to feel a bit of pain for not having a digital radio, but that pain is not about not getting The Archers, or not getting Chris Moyles. It’s about: ‘You could get a bit more over here’, or ‘There’s a bit of [Radio] 4 Extra over here that you could really do with’ – and that’s what television did with some of those channels," he said [transcript]

Davie also talks about internet radio, and the new RadioPlayer. He describes it as a sort of YouView for radio. This would be without YouView's Stalinist mandates on DRM and branding. It's a set of specifications anyone can play with.

Davie's background as a marketing manager at Pepsi (and before that a marketer at cosmetics giant Procter & Gamble, working on male toiletry brands) earned him sniffy comments from BBC insiders. But he seems to be refreshingly more pragmatic than many BBC or radio industry insiders.

Perhaps the Beeb should employ more staff with real world commercial experience, rather than bureaucrats seasoned in departmental in-fighting. ®

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