UK to Norway: DAB switchover is music to our ears
From a press release to firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted 16 April 2015, 6.46am edt
Pure, the digital radio manaufacturer, has announced its full support for Norway’s commitment to a digital radio migration and FM switch-off date. The Norwegian Ministry of Culture announced today that national FM networks will be switched off during 2017 to complete a transition to digital radio.
Paul Smith, Pure’s general manager, says: “As one of the original digital radio pioneers, this announcement is music to our ears and gives clarity to consumers and the radio industry in Norway allowing us to push ahead our digital radio plans with certainty. We look forward to working closely with radio industry stakeholders in Norway to ensure a smooth transition by continuing to stimulate the market with new and innovative products.
”This announcement, along with the recent confirmation of the winner of the bid for the UK’s second national digital radio multiplex, and the ongoing progress in Germany, shows that there is a huge amount of momentum and appetite for digital radio across multiple countries.”
In addition to its wide range of domestic digital radios, Pure is also working on expanding its in-car digital radio range and will be working with Digital Radio Norway to ensure there are accessible in-car adapters in the market in readiness for digital radio migration.
Other industry reaction
Welcoming the news, Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK says: “Norway was the first country to switchover to digital TV and we expect their announcement of a 2017 radio switchover to signal the start of a transition to digital radio across a number of European markets. In the UK the Government believes the future of radio is digital, and we are making good progress on achieving the agreed switchover coverage and listening criteria.”
Patrick Hannon, President of WorldDMB, says: “This announcement is a key milestone in the development of digital radio. It sends a clear signal to Europe and the rest of the world that digital radio is the platform of the future. Norway’s success has been based on a clear plan and strong commitment from broadcasters, policy makers and manufacturers.”
As an advocate for local radio (in which I mentally think of the small ILR's and a less-restricted version of community radio) I relish the thought of a controlled phase-over to DAB. However I can also see a (maybe unlikely, but possible) chance to be avoided of too fast a phase-over that results in the old analogue FM becoming a backwater - deserted by the mass market and left to small community stations and pirates.
Thus my preference would be for the BBC locals to vacate the FM band first, not the Nationals. Admittedly I don't have the facts and figures to hand, but my gut feel is that the BBC locals use a too much FM spectrum, with inordinately high output powers, from ridiculous transmitter sites for the audience that they capture. eg: in Manchester you can receive in perfect stereo BBC Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield from the Holme Moss transmitter atop of the Pennines (a massive hill over which the Tour de France cyclists recently struggled to cycle) and numerous other examples - such as North Hessory Tor in Devon. This sterilises large amounts of spectrum over large areas that might be used more efficiently for more truly local services. Moreover, the large coverage areas of (the largely half full) local multiplexes available, map quite well to the relatively large local audiences that they target - giving them an easy way to go digital.
So in my utopian mid-term future we'd have an FM band free'd of BBC "local" services offering loads of spectrum for innovative new services in localised areas, alongside familiar national services. Maybe even a small sub-band for low powered unlicensed or light-licensed stations. Ideally (as JC has previously suggested) receivers would be multi-platform and list all available stations regardless of whether they were FM, DAB, Internet, or something not even invented yet.
FM has oodles of legs into the distant future!
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