Is Radio 1 Eleven Times Better than Commercial radio?

By Glyn Roylance
Posted 10 July 2015, 10.58am edt

In another post there has been a bit of discussion on FM switch-off in which I found myself asserting how much FM resources that BBC Local stations to use. I thought it was high time that I come up with some facts and figures on FM resource consumption in the UK, and this article takes us through it.

You can see that the different services consume vastly different amounts of FM spectrum to serve each listener. I don't attempt to pass comment on the cost-benefit ratio of each listener on each service though (but Ofcom probably should because it's in their remit to do so).


4 years, 5 months ago

From a personal view on radio one.. Since the days of simon mayo, DLT and simon bates it is utter garbage. Short and sweet.

4 years, 5 months ago

Lee, I could say the same when I used to listen to Radio 1 when it featured Mike Raven, Tony Blackburn and Keith Skues.
It is inevitable we all grow up, mature and gracefully move on. It is a young people's network and they are the new "incrowd" who can judge BBC Radio 1 for themselves.
I do remember Radio 1 in the old days on 247metres/1214 kHz competing on the same frequency as Albania radio , broadcasting to China while the Soviet Union attempted to jam the Maoist agenda broadcasts. The after dark winter time reception of Radio 1 was a nasty experience as a result, barely audible through the noise in some parts of the UK.

Glyn, If BBC Radio 1 is better than its main competitors, it won't even be five times better than commercial radio! It might even be privatised during the currency of this Westminster government!!

4 years, 5 months ago

As I never listen anyway but am interested in rajar figures and I do believe they lost listeners when the boss said oh it's ok they were over 30 anyway. It spats everything that is wrong with the BBC from radio to TV. Nothing the corporation does interests me whatsoever

4 years, 5 months ago

I could say the same about Chris Moyles, Jo Whiley, Mark & Lard and Zoe Ball. Mark Goodier on the Top 40. Everyone has "their" Radio 1 generation.

4 years, 5 months ago

Yeah that's true but it's totally off the rails now

4 years, 5 months ago

Outside of daytime, Radio 1 continues to showcase new music that Capital or a typical Bauer City FM station won't touch. For that alone, it's worth keeping.

Daytime R1 may be a bit too speech heavy, although features on Scott Mills's show are worth listening for, even if the music isn't to my taste.

While people may miss the Bates/DLT era, R1's remit was too broad in the 'glory' days of The Happy Sound era.

4 years, 5 months ago

The title of the piece was a rhetorical question - my feeble Engineer's attempt at being "Journalistic"!

The point is - why should Radio 1 take 10 times more FM resources per listener than commercial radio? Why should it be afforded that "luxury"?


How can Community radio deliver listeners 1400 times more efficiently on FM than Radio Cymru? How much more could it deliver if it was given just a nadger more?

Basically the analysis puts some facts and figures around how our FM waveband is consumed in the UK. eg: If BBC vacated the band (saving lots of money, but probably to howls of protest) it would free 82% of the band for new services, and during the transfer would doubtless kick-start the mass adoption of DAB to a new level. Facts and figures in a debate are a good thing - for example in doing this exercise I actually disproved a long term grudge that I had that BBC local radio uses more than its fair share of the FM band - in fact, on average compared to commercial radio, it does not.

By understanding how the band is consumed, and how much some services are "subsidised" in terms of FM resources, it may help make the decision (when the time comes) on which services should vacate FM first.

4 years, 5 months ago

Glyn, (slightly off-topic) when I visit my in-laws in Derry, Northern Ireland, it is amazing the amount of FM channels available within the Maiden City with FM sharing UK services with others in the Republic Of Ireland. There is no apparent twitter or buzz caused by co-channel interference, giving FM a fantastic bouquet of choice on quality programming. The same with the choice of newspapers within the city, Derry folk have been spoiled for choice for years.
It does beg the question, if FM radio near the Irish border can cope with a RTE frequency block, along with a bigger BBC frequency block and a pile of commercial stations all thrown in, why can the same choice not be provided in all of the city areas throughout the UK?

4 years, 5 months ago

PS: 21 channels available in Derry on FM (an additional community service could also be heard, Inishowen Community Radio which has ceased).

4 years, 5 months ago

It does beg the question, if FM radio near the Irish border can cope with a RTE frequency block, along with a bigger BBC frequency block and a pile of commercial stations all thrown in, why can the same choice not be provided in all of the city areas throughout the UK?

Ofcom use protection margins in their spectrum planning which ensure good reception is possible 99% of the time. You'll probably find that your huge choice of stations in Derry does not have such a high reliability. You and I and many others probably feel these margins are too conservative, but if you put yourself in Ofcom's position why should they go against internationally agreed guidelines and risk getting complaints from Mr Angry of Tunbridge Wells that they are hearing birdies on Radio 3 or suchlike?

One solution would be to re-plan the FM band with a section with reduced protection margins that give greater choice at slightly lower quality (a bit like they've chosen to do with DAB). But a replan is impractical. Next most sensible solution would be to move the "least efficient" services off FM - overnight freeing loads of FM resources for new stations.

The analysis I did gives some clue on the efficiency (or not) with which services use the FM band.

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