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DAB is dividing the industry

The Chief Executive of UKRD and The Local Radio Company has said how the continuing debate over the future of radio is dividing the radio industry.

Willam Rogers thinks the current strategy created by Digital Radio UK could create two tiers of commercial station – those with a digital future and those without.

Writing as guest editor on RadioToday.co.uk's weekly news round-up and editorial today, Rogers says the fundamental rift is one between those of us who seek to ensure the future viability of the whole of the commercial radio sector and those who do not

"What kind of industry is it that happily supports a strategic and structural change which only applies to about two thirds of its operations?"

The CE urges radio operators to “look beyond the spin” of lobby organisations like Digital Radio UK as the debate about local radio’s future heats up ahead of the publication of the Governments Digital Britain Bill due in the Queens Speech this coming week.

“The [link=https://radiotoday.co.uk/news.php?extend.5348]recent speech[/link] by Lisa Kerr, an acknowledged good advocate and campaign director of Digital Radio UK, highlights by omission, as many issues which people running local commercial radio stations should be really concerned about, as those it attempted to clarify on digital radio’s behalf,” said Rogers.
[i]
“What was telling was the complete lack of acknowledgement that the very proposal that she was advocating, namely “Why Radio must go Digital” is itself completely out of step with reality as the fact is that a lot of radio is not able to go digital and no-one, least of all Digital Radio UK, is seeking to address that fact,” he said. “This is a really serious situation and we all need to wake up before we sleep walk into a disaster.

It is extra-ordinary that we have an organisation advocating a position which implies it is speaking on behalf of the radio industry and yet completely ignores the fact that the policy it is supporting and advocating will leave potentially over a hundred local commercial stations denied any such future. This is poor policy planning and for many years has highlighted a real lack of concern for genuinely local commercial radio.

It is not surprising that the likes of UTV, UKRD and The Local Radio Company feel they all need to speak out. Only one conclusion can be drawn from this position and that is that the hundred odd stations that Digital Radio UK obviously cares little about, are not considered an important enough part of commercial radio to be included in what Digital Radio UK want as the industries future.”

Only just over 13% of the population listen to DAB radio after ten years of hammering away. And yet, here we are talking about a review in 2013 with a possible switch-over in 2015. Let’s not get conned into talking about digital listening at levels of 20% plus and assume it relates to DAB. It does not. DAB listening is just over 13% and we all need to remember that. In many parts of the country, you get a poor signal and in too many parts you get no signal at all. There should be no consideration of any analogue switch-off date until the infrastructure is fully in place and everyone’s future route clearly understood.” [/i]

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