The much awaited Memorandum of Understanding just published by the Government has been branded a “total waste of time and energy” by at least one radio group CEO.
UKRD’s William Rogers says “it beggars belief that this has been published as a serious proposition.”
The MoU establishes an agreement in principle to fund the build-out of local DAB to FM equivalences over the next 5 years, with a commitment to consider further funding if necessary.
The MoU outlines three key phases of the process:
Phase One – Action prior to the 2013 radio switchover decision
Phase Two – Post 2013 radio switchover decision to 90 per cent local DAB coverage
Phase Three – Extending local DAB coverage from 90 per cent to FM equivalence
The first part of the £21m plan includes the launching of five new local DAB multiplexes in Gloucestershire, Hereford and Worcester, Northamptonshire, North East Wales and West Cheshire, and Oxfordshire in the next 18 months. Multiplex operator MuxCo says they intend to launch very much towards the beginning of the 18 month period.
However, the agreement between Global, Bauer, UTV, BBC, Arqiva, Ofcom and more is not legally binding so could be cancelled at anytime.
Rogers, who is usually vocal on all things digital, said: “This is tantamount to kicking the can down the road and does absolutely nothing to end the uncertainties around the local DAB situation.
“We have been waiting for this for months and months and all we get is a meaningless piece of paper devoid of any serious commitment to the necessary funding required or any sensible strategy to deliver certainty to this whole local DAB shambles.”
“We have been waiting for this for months and when it eventually gets produced it might as well be used to wrap fish and chips. Even the Government is not prepared to commit to the necessary funding for the local DAB roll out beyond 2017 at the very time when it would need to be delivered. This is a complete shambles and it makes it less likely that either operators or motor manufacturers will have any confidence at all that this is likely to proceed.
“The DCMS has elevated the shambolic strategic planning of the local radio sector to an art form and it beggars belief that this has been published as a serious proposition. This is shambolic, ill-considered and utterly meaningless. More uncertainty, not less and even more proof, if we haven’t already had enough, that the Government is incapable of managing this process competently,” said Rogers.
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