Digital radio receives welcome boost
By Ben Fenton, Media Correspondent
Published: February 16 2008
Digital radio, decried last week as a white elephant when GCap Media, its original champion, staged a wholesale retreat, has received two significant votes of confidence, which broadcasters hope will prove a "tipping point" for the platform.
First, the Ford motor company, which is to make digital audio broadcasting radios available as options on its Focus model - the best-selling car in the UK - is now thought to be close to announcing DAB as a standard fitting in future. Second, Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, reaffirmed support for digital radio this week and will explore with broadcasters how radio spectrum can be best allocated to ensure its future.
Last Monday, digital radio was dealt a blow when Fru Hazlitt, chief executive of GCap, the UK's largest commercial radio broadcaster and heaviest investor in DAB, described it as no longer "economically viable" for her company. But many in the radio industry believe the principal stumbling block for digital radio was the refusal of mass-market carmakers such as Ford and Volkswagen to adopt DAB, the format used in the UK, but not in other main European markets. Including different technologies in cars involves complex redesigns and is not undertaken lightly.
The story so far
1981 Development starts on digital audio broadcasting at Germany's Institut für Rundfunktechnik
1995 BBC begins DAB tests
1996 Commercial radio trials
1998 Digital One awarded licence to run national commercial network
1999 Commercial digital radio launches in the UK
2000 Dixons begins to stock digital radios
2001 Industry launches £99 digital radio promotion
2002 BBC launches Five Live Sports Extra, the first of five national digital-only stations that year
2003 Ford offers DAB as optional extra in cars
2004 Vauxhall launches range with DAB as standard
2007 GCap Media scraps Capital Disney, its digital station for children; group's CEO and digital champion Ralph Bernard steps down
2008 GCap announces sale of Digital One to Arqiva and closes digital-only stations Planet Rock and theJazz
16 febbraio 2008
Ford: autoradio DAB di serie nelle vetture in UK
Secondo il Financial Times di oggi, la radio digitale in UK riceve una iniezione di fiducia dopo il brutto colpo della scorsa settimana (GCap che vende Digital One ad Arqiva e chiude diversi canali). Sembra che Ford abbia deciso di installare autoradio DAB di serie sulle proprie vetture, mentre OFCOM ha accolto la richiesta (vedi RP di questi giorni) di rivedere l'assegnamento di frequenze e licenze. FT pubblica anche una concisa cronologia del DAB. L'inizio dello sviluppo della tecnologia risale al 1981. I primi test della BBC al 1995. In Gran Bretagna ci sono 6,5 milioni di apparecchi DAB (ascolto digitale della radio sfiora il 10%) contro 150 milioni di radio analogiche. Secondo me in queste cifre c'è qualcosa che non va.