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Rogers: Further DAB concerns

Previous assurances and commitments made to the commercial radio sector about the roll out of DAB are “unravelling before our eyes” claims UKRD’s Chief Executive.

Following recent answers to Parliamentary questions by Secretary of State, Ben Bradshaw, William Rogers has expressed further concerns about the costs of DAB.

In response to a question from MP, Christopher Fraser, Bradshaw has confirmed that the cost of upgrading the DAB infrastructure will have to be shared between the BBC and the commercial sector. The Secretary of State has made it clear that some of the cost savings resulting from the Digital Economy Bill which may be of benefit to the commercial sector, “must support investment in improving coverage.”

Bradshaw goes on to say, “The full cost cannot be left to the BBC alone. We will work with the BBC, transmission providers and Ofcom to agree a plan for the extension and improvement of local DAB coverage, and where the cost would most appropriately fall.”

“This is clear evidence that yet more money is to be sucked out of the commercial sector to fund a part of this build out in spite of the industry having repeatedly stated that it does not wish to put any more investment into the infrastructure costs for the further build out,” said Rogers. “In spite of the indications from Government that the BBC would be expected to meet these additional costs, it is now clear that the whole position is shifting yet again and, once more, to the disadvantage of the commercial sector.”

In another Parliamentary answer, Bradshaw also confirmed that “No specific assessment has been made of the impact of the radio provisions set out in the draft Digital Economy Bill on local commercial stations remaining on FM after the digital radio switchover.”

“The more we hear the more we should all get increasingly concerned. The fact that the Government has now acknowledged that no assessment of this strategy has been made, the chopping and changing on the future of FM, the surprise announcement that more money is needed from the commercial sector rather than what we thought was going to be a BBC commitment and still, no clear realistic timetable. What a shambles this is turning out to be.”

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