Ecco quali sono i rischi delle sperimentazioni perenni. Abbiamo creduto ciecamente ai tecnici che per anni non hanno fatto altro che salmodiare sui grandi "vantaggi" delle modulazioni digitali e i broadcaster (quasi sempre pubblici) che hanno effettuato test a copertura limitata hanno sempre fatto eco a questo entusiasmo incondizionato. Ora che la radio digitale deve dimostrare di poter reggere il confronto più elementare con la "obsoleta" radio analogica, ovverosia farsi ascoltare da milioni di persone, come succede con quegli ingombranti dinosauri dell'FM e delle onde medie, saltano fuori più buchi che in una fetta di groviera.
Nel frattempo, scrive il Guardian, il RadioCentre, organo delle emittenti commerciali britanniche, ha ufficialmente richiesto che per garantire la sopravvivenza del DAB le autorità costringano i programmi radiofonici BBC Radio 1 e 2 a trasmettere solo in digitale. Era quello che vi dicevo: l'unico modo per far passare la nuova radio è forzare lo spegnimento della vecchia. Ma che bravi. Posso chiedere dove sono finiti i tanto decantati servizi accessori, i canali in simulcasting, i location based services, i servizi dati, tutte le cose che la radio analogica non può fare. E che evidentemente nessuno è capace di offrire ad ascoltatori che per giunta non ne sentono un gran bisogno.
Patchy signal sparks digital radio revolt
Nick Tabakoff | July 03, 2008
NEXT year's launch of digital radio in Australia could be compromised by black spots and coverage shortfalls in metropolitan licence areas that may result in one in four cities being without indoor reception.
The apparent problem has prompted leading radio executives to telegraph their concerns to Media.
They say they are worried about coverage on the Channel 9A band allocated for the service.
Digital radio has been presented as the new-media tool to ensure that the industry - now seen as old media because of online and mobile technologies - has a future.
The new service, scheduled to launch on January 1, will allow metropolitan stations to offer up to three new stations on the digital spectrum.
But Sydney and Brisbane in particular could face problems with the band, sandwiched between the Channel 9 and Channel10 analog television bands. There have been concerns at the Australian Communications and Media Authority about interference in either TV channel in the five mainland state capitals.
Coverage maps prepared at the end of 2007 and circulated only to senior radio industry figures by the peak body, Commercial Radio Australia, have been leaked to Media.
The maps, based on ACMA specifications, showed proposed broadcast coverage in the cities reaching a maximum of 50per cent in Sydney, with only slightly better coverage in other cities.
Under this scenario, up to half the consumers would not receive digital radio at all or would receive only out-of-building coverage. This has prompted one high-level radio industry executive to comment: "Why are people going to buy digital radios if they're not going to hear the stations they want to hear? Why will they spend $200?
"The industry has a one-off opportunity to get this right. If consumers buy the technology and can't receive it, it'll get a very bad name."
But CRA boss Joan Warner said the maps were not a fair representation of coverage areas.
"I understand the (executive's) concern. We were going to wait until the final resolution with ACMA of all issues before issuing new maps, so some of their information and understanding may be outdated."
Ms Warner was surprised at the industry comments and the leaking of the maps, which also indicated problems in other cities: "I'm perplexed, given the amount of work that has gone on and is yet to be completed, that there would be anonymous quotes within the industry before we actually know what the final picture would be.
"There is still a lot of room for improvement, and we intend to improve it."
Ms Warner said that by January 1 she expected 75 to 80 per cent of people in the mainland state capitals would be able to receive digital radio in their homes: "We realistically see it covering at least 75 per cent of the Sydney market, and more of other markets."
She has, however, conceded there are problems in the Brisbane area: "Brisbane has a black spot in the northeast of the licence area," she said, adding there was "poor in-building coverage" and "patchy vehicle coverage" in the area. However, she claimed these problems were fixable at a cost.
Ms Warner said CRA had reached informal agreement with ACMA's technical officers to transmit the digital radio signal at higher power, working with them to prove this would not cause interference with Channels 9 and 10. This would help to alleviate black-spot problems, she said.
The CRA boss also said she was in discussions with the Department of Defence and ACMA about gaining a sub-licence on a small part of Defence's Channel 13 spectrum - used for military communications systems - that would not have the same interference problems: "For the future, we've also asked the Government to commit to the allocation of one of the vacated analog TV channels when the digital TV switchover happens in 2013," she said.