Future of radio not DAB only, says Shennan

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BBC Director of Radio Bob Shennan says the future of radio in the UK needs to be a mixture of DAB, FM and internet, rather than just DAB.

Details of his speech for delegates at Radiodays Europe on Monday morning have been leaked to the Telegraph, which quotes him as saying more work needs to be done before we consider a switchover in the UK.

[Listen live to his opening speech on inRad.io at 8am Monday]

The Telegraph says Bob will argue for a Hybrid future and wants to work with the commercial radio industry on a way forward. He says: “We all once thought that DAB was the only digital future of radio, but audiences want choice” Mr Shennan will tell a radio industry conference in Vienna.

“We now know DAB is important, but only a part of the story, along with FM and the internet. We need to do more before we consider a switchover in the UK, and for that to be genuinely audience-led.

“For now, we believe audiences are best served by a mixed economy. Radio is also better served by a mixed economy.

“How can radio make the most of this technology? Or more pressing still, how can we protect the critical radio space in cars, where we need to work with suppliers to ensure that radio thrives as part of the connected dashboard?”

“It’s really time for us to come together as one united radio industry to secure our future.”



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13 Comments
  1. Willie Bone says

    Digital radio programme channel choice, programme content and sound quality are actually fantastic and generally better than offered on FM, but not on DAB!
    Know what? Radio listeners already know that and is taken nearly 20 years for the radio industry to realise it!
    Where DAB radio has failed to impress the majority of the listening public, 5G radio could be the future ticket for digital radio switchover!

  2. Dave says

    What now for the further of DAB ?.
    The BBC cannot afford to broadcast on FM & DAB ?. Also the likes of D1 have invested millions in there national multiplex for the switch over to DAB.
    This is a mess !

    1. Willie Bone says

      Dave, 5G wireless carriage technology could be the real catalyst for digital radio switchover! DAB has failed to impress the public with mid-fidelity audio output and duplicate formatted channels!
      Away from DAB, digital radio and its service of podcasts is an excellent ambassador for real diversity of choice and better than FM sound quality in general!

  3. Radio Geordie says

    About time that someone woke up and smelt the coffee.

  4. Jonathan says

    At last some sensible thoughts about the future radio transmission, having just driven from Sheffield to Manchester listening to BBC Radio Four Extra and needing to switch between DAB and internet to listen to an uninterrupted programme.
    Almost all of my listening while driving is via the internet with the occasional switch over to my local BBC station Three Counties on FM as the DAB coverage is very poor in comparison to it’s AM/FM coverage.

  5. John Leech says

    Totally agree with Bob, bang on the nail.

  6. J Peter Wilson says

    The answer is multi-platform. Where I now live in East Yorkshire the reception of national FM has always been ‘iffy’ and many houses still have roof-mounted aerials for FM. Thank goodness that we receive 59 stations on DAB/DAB+ as well as on Apps/Online compared to just 13 on FM & MW/AM. We haven’t invested in an Alexa speaker but our local radio station is also available that way.

  7. Erlend Sorbye says

    Dab in Norway was forced on the people.
    The young generation dont use DAB, sinds there is no DAB in smartphones.
    The future is Internetradio, so the Norwegian government has really put a spike in the koffin by turning off FM.

  8. Colin Kelly says

    DAB=Sony MiniDisc. Nothing wrong with it, but only ever an interim technology.

  9. Harvey says

    Only reason the BBC don’t wanna do it is because they know they’ll lose listeners, dab is the way if FM keeps the local stations still

  10. rob charles says

    This has been known for a while that it was a nonsensical idea, to begin with. Finally, someone with a brain has told it how it should be. Well done Mr Shennan.

  11. Ben says

    I’m not sure anyone thought or claimed that the future of radio would *just* be DAB. Reaching audiences means a multi-platform approach, but there are advantages in reaching them through broadcast, and advantages to using digital broadcasting over analogue.

    Digital broadcast is more spectrally efficient than using 3G or 4G – and as far as I am aware, 5G hasn’t even been defined yet, but it wont be a silver bullet. Theres only so much physics can do. Broadcast is the best way to reach large audiences with the same content – full stop. Whether you do that using DAB or IP, its the same, but there are plenty more valuable things than radio that could go over the bandwidth that is controlled by mobile operators, so if we rely on that on its own – radio will lose out.

    The brightest future will be a combination of many things, DAB+ to provide a wider range of broadcast services, combined with the Internet to add additional features and services.

    1. Ben says

      Oops, forgot to say. What Bob was saying was that the BBC is not going to move to DAB-only for radio just yet. Combine that with the co-timed statement from Global, it could be interpreted as a call from UK radio for the government to lead with a timetable, rather than rely on the market to decide.

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