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Why digital radio switchover will not work

Culture minister Ed Vaizey’s continual backing of plans to move FM platforms to DAB by 2015 has been daubed somewhat ambitious recently, with a switchover being improbable until at least 50% of listeners tune in via digital and 98% of the country receives DAB coverage.

Here we look at 10 reasons why a digital radio switchover by 2015 will not work.

Needless waste: Necessitates the scrapping of older radios which work perfectly fine with FM signal.Cost: Digital TV switchover simply required a relatively cheap box plugged into existing analogue sets. Not so with digital radio; this requires a complete new set to be purchased, at a much higher price than current analogue receivers.Sound quality: Outdated codec, and the urge to compress so many channels into such a small amount of bandwidth, means a substandard sound and trades quality for quantity.Coverage: Just like digital TV, the DAB signal is not available everywhere, meaning some listeners currently able to receive an FM signal will now be unable to listen at all.Car radios: Changing radios in cars will be difficult and very expensive. Only 1% of cars currently have digital capability.Incompatibility: DAB technology is incompatible with digital broadcasting systems around the world.British only: The DAB switchover means settling for more insular radio consumption, as only radio programmes from the UK will be available, while the scrapped sets were able to receive programmes from around the world.Power consumption: Digital radios guzzle power at a far higher rate than FM radios, meaning wasting more energy or money on batteries.Listening in bath: High cost of running a digital radio on batteries will mean, for many, no more listening to radio in the bath.Inconvenience: See points 1-9 above.

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