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Cancel the FM switch off completely

Dont just delay digital switchover – cancel it. We dont want FM to be switched off – ever.

There is no need for it to be switched off. It is an affront to our liberty that millions of our expensive and high quality radios will be rendered obsolete, together with millions of handy portable radios.

Mr Vaizey is apparently to say a decision will be made when more than half of radio listeners have tuned into digital – that is simply disgraceful.

I have listened to DAB once or twice. Does that mean I want FM swicthed off? Of course not.

Just because 50% of people may be surveyed and have said they “have tuned in to digital” does not mean FM should be switched off. DAB is a complementary servive, NOT an alternative.

Mr Vaizey is expected to say this afternoon: “So listeners need to be persuaded that the content on offer is compelling, that the quality is high and that digital radios, at home or in the car, are affordable and have listening quality that is at least as good as FM.”

Sorry Mr Vaizey, that is simply not the point. Even if DAB improves so that it is as good or better than FM, it does not mean that FM should be switched off. We want to use our existing radios. I may buy a DAB radio to use at home plugged in, or listen to digital on my freeview box sometimes, but it doesnt mean that I want my car and portable radios to be useless. And as far as compelling content, there is no reason that all content should not be simultaneously broadcast on FM. The BBC should broadcast radio 6 and radio 7 on FM forthwith!

STOP THE WASTE – BAN THE SWITCHOFF OF FM

Why does this matter?

1. We all have many FM radios that are perfectly good, we dont need to replace them.

2. It is inappropriate to render analogue radios obsolete at a stroke, leading to most of them ending up in landfill. This is an anti-environmental policy.

3. Signal coverage of DAB is not as good as FM, so many people will be disadvantaged

4. Power consumption of DAB is high, meaning portable DAB radios are too large, too heavy, and run out of power too quickly

5. Government should not allow itself to be strong armed by industry vested interests. Of course industry would love everyone to be forced to buy new radios. Just because industry likes the idea, doesnt mean that it is a good idea.

6. DAB and FM should be allowed to coexist. They are complementary services, I am incensed that I will have no freedom to choose.

7. This site is called Your Freedom – well prove it – give us freedom to choose FM

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54 Responses to Cancel the FM switch off completely

  1. Simon Lye says:

    The Government should abandon plans to switch off BBC FM radio

    • Mike Galvin says:

      Agree, keep FM always but switch off AM

    • Rich says:

      I agree keep the fm radio on ,I’ve listened to dab radio it is not the best of sound quality compared to the fm band where as it has crystal quality sound .however not a lot of folk use dab so that is another fault for the dab industry .what happens if say there internet causes problem and say the fm band was off ? Where is the back up .so it’s important the fm band stays on it’s easier for them to check on the fm band too .

    • S. Stebbing says:

      I agree. I’m fed up with the number of digital radios- even good quality brands- that I’ve had in a short few years that malfunction after having poor sound quality. Also when portable they use so much power I’m always having to find a new set of batteries. I’m so disenchanted with digital I’m buying an old 2nd hand portable fm radio and hope FM switch off never happens as at the moment it seems such a retrograde step

    • Tim says:

      Don’t switch of Fm. It’s sounds so much better then compress Dab ! Plus Dab signal comes and goes ! FM Has a strong signal. And also there’s a lot of hifi fans with great Fm tuners ! Which will only end up in land fills !.

  2. Richard Sillick says:

    We all have many FM radios that are perfectly good, we dont need to replace them.

  3. Steven Toy says:

    The sound quality of DAB is poor compared to both FM and CD given the compression. It is already obsolete technology as are all compressed digital formats.

    We have a DAB radio at home but never use it because the reception is so poor.

    The rush to switch over is clearly steeped in vested financial interests.

  4. Mike Barr says:

    I have no problem replacing FM with a digital system – PROVIDING its superior to FM in sound quality.

    Various politicians, the BBC and Ofcom have all said DAB is “CD quality”. This has been universally condemned by industry experts, commentators and the radio industry in general. Its a blatant untruth and a deliberate attempt to mislead the general public.

    Ofcom do not seem to be regulating to achieve public satisfaction and is therefore failing their mandate.

  5. Ronald Guise says:

    Keep FM get rid of DAB

  6. Alan Jones says:

    Being an avid HiFi enthusiast, I listen to FM radio on a daily basis, albeit a few years ago, I paid £1,200 for my FM radio and I have 2 other HiFi systems and portable radio in other rooms all with FM radio, as well as 2 cars with FM radio. The replacement costs will be huge!! for something I don’t want to listen to.
    Have you heard DAB radio? it is dire, compressed, musically bereft broadcasting and only fit for hand held units in my opinion.
    On the grounds of quality we should be campaigning to SCRAP DIGITAL!!!!!

  7. Phil Sparks says:

    totally agree – when DAB sounds better than FM it may be time to start thinking about a transition – not until.

    in addition, the 50% ‘criteria’ for switchover is crazy. It should be 90%+

  8. David Kendrick says:

    DAB just is not fit for purpose so FM should not be switched off until it is.

  9. Chris N says:

    Why turn off FM which is loved by millions for it’s sound quality, and replace it with an inferior mediom ie DAB?
    Answer = For the income it will give the government.

  10. Angela Kingdom says:

    DAB is sonically inferior to FM, just compare the two on good quality equipment and hear for yourselves. The only reason the Government want DAB is so they call sell the FM frequency allocation to the highest bidder.

    • Mike Galvin says:

      You hit the nail on the head, its all about money for the Government, keep your FM cause if it goes, well its gone forever.

  11. Martin Rose says:

    FM and DAB should co exist . FM for sound DAB for content

  12. Roger S. says:

    The idea that DAB is as good as FM for sound quality is:
    a) preposterous
    b) simply untrue

    Why should financial gain be allowed to spoil the enjoyment of so many ?

    Who does Mr Vaizey think he is. more to the point, who does he think he represents?

  13. The idea of turning off FM in preference to DAB is ridiculous.

    The DAB sound is awful in comparison to FM.

    FM works, DAB I have found works sometimes, but then there is that awful sound quality, whoever said DAB is CD quality needs his ears testing.

    Scraping FM is hardly eco friendly, what do we do with all the old tuners put them in landfill? THINK!

  14. Pete S says:

    I don’t see what stands to be gained by FM switchoff apart from big business interests in DAB radio manufacturing and running more rubbish radio channels.

    Unlike analogue TV switchoff which freed a lot of valuable space, FM switchoff saves 20Mhz. Good for what?

    And, as others point out, the FM radio as landfill issue won’t go away either.

  15. Michael Abell says:

    Dab reception is good in my area but stations are limited, both FM & Dab are viable so why can’t they coexsist?

  16. OnestBob says:

    I have 2 cars and at least 8 items which tune to FM and which give perfectly good reception. I have 1 DAB portable device which I use in the garden and it loses reception very frequently .I cannot afford to replace 10 good working devices and I do not want to swap to a poor service. When I can have a DAB car radio for under £100 which stays tuned from London to Edinburgh without loss of service I might be convinced otherwsie.

  17. Andrew Aldridge says:

    There still seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the switchover to DAB and the switching off of the FM national frequencies. Despite building opposition the government seems to be strengthening its resolve to ditch FM by 2015. They have significantly changed the goalposts in recent announcements, on the one hand recommending manufacturers of radios including the ability to receive FM broadcasts, but on the other hand they now say that the measure is 50% listening to “digital” rather than 50% listening to DAB. So in other words they know that DAB will never reach the coverage required, digital radio services can be had by so many other means, internet, sky, Freeview, etc. They still intend to make broadcasts available to FM just not the main stations that we want. They also announced that a decision will be made in 2013 not 2015. Despite more than a decade of investment and industry promotion, digital radio, including DAB, online and digital TV, currently accounts for 29.2% of all radio listening. There is not a hope in hells chance that DAB will ever reach the specified coverage, so it is going to happen no matter what.

    Personally I don’t know why they just don’t keep the FM system as it is and ditch DAB which is an out of date system not able to keep up with the digital services that people will demand and enjoy accessing services via the internet.

    We live in an area of Cumbria that they will never extend DAB coverage to. We were the first to get Freeview TV, but no commercial stations. Broadband is either appalling or non-existent, but we do get FM radio…. for now.

    I am 57 years old I have enjoyed listening to FM radio for the majority of those years. I have a venerable NAD 4300 tuner in my main hi-fi system which has given excellent service for many years and has many more left in it, as does my 1978 Hacker Consort which I listen to in the bathroom, my Sony tranny that resides in the kitchen, and my Grundig yatchboy in the bedroom (wife permitting). We also have an old radio in the shed and of one in each of our 2 cars. These are irreplaceable and next to useless if the government has its way, which I believe they will despite all opposition and the outrageous cost to consumers. In many rural areas, where it is not commercially worthwhile to provide the necessary infrastructure to enable good access to digital services, the withdrawal of national stations from FM will mean a regression to pre WWII standards.

  18. Chris Cooper says:

    Dont Switch off FM Radio.

    FM works properly, let us not switch over to something that doesn’t work properly, especially for those on the move, ie in cars and trucks. FM is a proven and reliable service. Lets keep it.

  19. Mike says:

    DAB abd FM can and should co-exist. Will they? or will listeners get shoved to the back of the queue behind greedy mobile operators and other spivs with ready cash and questionable motives?
    Vote with your voices and write to your local MP.

  20. p bligh says:

    keep FM
    reception poor on DAB
    Quality poor on DAB
    And I have heavily invested in FM – 5 FM radio including 2 expensive (quad and Naim tuners and only one Pure radio

  21. Graham says:

    Do not lose FM broadcasting. Will the government be replacing existing FM car and home audio units? of course they won’t.
    Switching off FM is totally insane.

  22. Mike Holman says:

    In common with many here, I have several FM radios. There are no plans to EVER extend digital coverage to my area, so a switch would see broadcasters losing my custom.
    I have access to DAB via satelite, but the sound quality on most programs is poor, so I chose not to use the service.
    Unless there is some underlying health concern with FM(!) I see no good reason to kill it. If 51% try digital, did they ask how many people have tried a good FM signal? Or how many kept FM in preference after trying? If they did ask they would see DAB has a long way to go

  23. Andrew Waite says:

    There is absolutely no justification for stopping national fm broadcasting. DAB has huge disadvantages, as detailed above, is already out of date, and sounds awful. I smell an obnoxious commercial and political rat, characterised by the misleading term used by its supporters – SWITCHOVER. Tommyrot. The long-suffering citizens of this country are being taken for mugs.

  24. Dave O'Neill says:

    Switching off FM is a ridiculous idea.

    We have at least five FM radios in various parts of the house, including two portables, and two cars with FM radios. I also have an FM receiver in my mobile phone.

    My company car has a DAB radio, but I will normally only listen to FM. I have tried DAB, but it is useless. The reception is hopeless, as there are long periods of silence.

    One day, I was trying to listen to a program on Radio 4extra, which was two hours long. I only heard less than forty minutes of it, due to the periods of silence.

    Leave FM alone.

  25. Paul Gruet says:

    I own 3 DAB radios, two at home and one in the car. The audio quality on all 3 is vastly inferior to
    FM. In the car the signal drops out completely if I go under a bridge or even if a high sided vehicle pulls alongside, and that is when listening to my local mux from Reigate Hill, 7 miles from me and line of sight.

    Indoors reception is hopeless, upstairs it frequently deteriorates into that bubbling mud noise, and downstairs it is virtually non-existent.

    If FM is switched off and this is all we are left with, I will have to give up on radio altogether which is a great shame.

    I live in Crawley, West Sussex, a relatively well served area, so I can only imagine things get worse in the less densely populated parts of the country

  26. Trevor Martin says:

    With vinyl & cassette making a comeback, it is only fair to continue the analogue FM for the foreseeable future..

  27. Mike Galvin says:

    I live in Ireland, its March 2016 and can say there is No plan to rollout DAB/DAB+, simply because there is no demand for it. FM signal here is so good that it would be madness to change. Anyway our population is too small to interduce DAB. We are happy with our FM. Make sure you will keep it.

  28. Brian Sturdy says:

    Leave Analog AM/FM as it is! Scrap DAB totally it’s just another cash grab that’s all it is ! If you look further into it you’ll find that analog broadcasting is superior for emergency broadcasts and further reaching in other areas as well. Millions of analog radios are still currently sold and will be the ongoing radio of choice for decades to come………AMEN !

  29. John Parker says:

    The proposal to switch off FM is just to make more money selling ‘DAB’ etc. (which I don’t have, or want.

  30. John Parker says:

    I do not have, or want, DAB.
    The idea is just to put more money in the pockets of “managers”.

  31. M V says:

    I agree with all the points in this article. But the big one for me is the lack of benefit to the end user by switching to DAB – the only benefit I see it is raising revenue for the government. I sent a letter to this effect to Ed Vaisey back in 2010 – only to get a stock reply that completely missed the point:

    Dear Mr Vaizey,

    As your constituent, I am writing to you as I feel strongly about the proposed FM switchoff, which has now thankfully been postponed.

    As someone who almost exclusively listens to Radio 4, 3 and Classic FM, which is available on both FM and DAB, I am not convinced by the benefits of DAB.
    Although I do occasionally listen to the World Service on DAB, for someone with my listening habits, DAB in its current form does not bring significant benefit
    to warrant a replacement of FM.

    In the future, if DAB receivers brought useful features such as Listen Again and Series Recording, I would be happy to reassess their benefits. But In the
    meantime I have no intention of replacing all my existing FM receivers with their more power-hungry DAB equivalents.

    Yours sincerely,

    MV

    Dear MV

    Thank you for your email of 12 July to the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, the Hon Ed Vaizey MP, about digital radio. I have been asked to reply on his behalf.

    You may be aware that the Minister launched the Digital Radio Action Plan on 8 July 2010.

    Please see the information available on our website to answer any questions you may have: http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/hot_topics/7231.aspx

    Thank you again for taking the trouble to write.

    Yours sincerely

    JB

  32. There is absolutely no comparison between FM and DAB (as UK implimented) for sound quality. DAB is far inferior to both FM and UHF (TV) based radio.

  33. David Budgett says:

    I have only TODAY learned about this plan. I am appalled. I have enjoyed FM now for about forty years , especially Radio 3. Maybe it will outlive me anyway but I want it to go on for others and for me in my dotage.

    I agree with most of the points already made:
    FM is miles better for sound quality. The BBC Engineering Department did a first rate job in the 1960s to give us true high fidelity sound for the first time but the whole point of digital is to compress the signal to get more stations into the space available. In the long run the drive to stuff in more stations is bound to push out any attempts at high quality. Whatever may be said before the deed is done will be quietly forgotten.

    FM coverage is better in hilly places partly because it copes well with poor signal strength. Am I the only one to find that digital TV has evenings when the picture and sound keep breaking up? This was rare with analogue TV. For similar reasons digital car radios may give irregular service when they are fully tested across the country. Dave O\’Neill and Paul Gruet bear me out on this point. Wide confirmation of this testing ought to kill the idea of shutting down FM.

    Andrew Aldridge tells us that full digital coverage in rural areas will be too costly to be feasible. If this is true then FM absolutely should be retained. Are we one nation or two?

    Putting the nation’s FM radios into landfill before their time is not green. Making the change as soon as 51% of people admit they have once used digital as no way to offer a service to the nation as a whole.
    The radio industry no doubt has “friends” in Parliament and in the Government who are keen to force us all to buy more of their products. Also the Government can get a little more money from the extra stations to help it balance its books.

  34. John Hewett says:

    Reasons to retain FM:

    The sound quality of FM is superior to DAB.
    There is a lot of money invested in FM tuners.
    The coverage of FM is more cost-effective than DAB.
    Clocks cannot be accurately set to time pips from DAB.

  35. Peter Young says:

    I love my FM Hi Fi Radios and the lovely high quality sound they produce. I do have a bedside radio that is both FM and DAB and I have tried it on DAB but it is so much better on FM, so it is always now on FM. DAB makes the Time Signal obsolete as it is around 5/6 seconds out so no good for setting my clocks.
    FM is constant, reliable and distortion free (in my area).
    It should not be turned off, especially so that the government can make a one off financial gain.
    We the citizens own the BBC, we pay for the FM service, it is our right to retain it. The government is supposed to serve us, perhaps a referendum would provide an answer!!!

  36. Martin says:

    Argos is still selling FM only car radios , in fact all their car radios below £200 are FM only, If they are going to switch FM off soon – they must stop people wasting their money and ban the sale of FM radios.

  37. R says:

    BAD IDEA.
    Switching FM radio off in the UK would be one of the stupidest acts I have seen in my 62 years.

    There are millions of FM sets in daily use.
    There are many FM only sets still being sold.
    Disposing of millions of FM sets is anti environmental.
    I find DAB reception appalling.
    DAB radio prices are comparatively high.
    DAB is a money making scheme.
    Not everybody has internet.
    External aerials would need changing at great expense.
    We have already paid for the FM network, it is ours, we wish to keep it.

  38. J Randall says:

    Bad idea.
    DAB is crap. I will never ever buy one.
    60 years repairing FM radios. They will never die.
    Sound quality like this will never be surpassed.

  39. Trevor says:

    I\’ve just done a quick count and I\’ve got 9 FM radios all working perfectly. Why would I want to replace – bedside radios, car radios, portable radios and a hi-fi tuner? My Yamaha AV receiver has a FM radio which I\’m listing to now.

    The BBC needs to understand that the FM network is working really well so it doesn\’t need to be \’fixed\’. They should forget their political buddies and campaign to save FM.

    I did buy some early DAB radios which were basically rubbish. I question whether the scheme was ever properly specified. The hardware performed poorly and the BBC kept changing the bit rates which the radio couldn\’t track. FM offered continuous stereo with great quality while the equivalent DAB stations were \’up and down\’ frequently in mono with restricted bandwidth. …and yes, \’voice\’ stations should be transmitted in stereo with good bandwidth.

    The problem with DAB, at that time, was that they were trying to pack too many stations into not enough space. The quality of each station dropped when compared with the equivalent FM channel. I\’m not sure what the state of DAB is at the moment but I do perceive it to be the poor cousin to FM.

    As a digital service I think Freeview was implemented quite well. There was however a technology change that helped with the deployment. Televisions were changing from CRT\’\’s to flat screens which was a good reason to upgrade. There is no good reason to change radios at the moment, in fact the change looks like a retrograde step.

    DAB is faulty but even if it was perfect I wouldn\’t want to lose FM. Let\’s ask for a reprieve of about 50 years. I know some people may think this is too short a time but DAB will get there if the emphasis is placed on quality not quantity.

    Trevor

  40. Ian kelsey says:

    Keep fm scrap dab rubbish radio

  41. Dave P says:

    I’ve just been looking for a new radio but still can’t quite bring myself to buy a DAB set. As pointed out by almost everyone, the sound is rubbish compared to FM.
    They all eat batteries and I don’t want to be restricted by having to plug into the mains everywhere I go. They are also relatively expensive and every review of every model I read seems to find some problem with reception, controls, cost of battery packs etc.
    If FM had never existed and someone introduced it today people would be throwing their DAB sets in the bin and switching to analogue!
    I’m not a Luddite and will happily use new technology when its an improvement on old tech, but DAB is currently just a pile of cr***.
    Thank you for providing a platform for my rant, who do we call to get it stopped?

  42. Geoff Smith says:

    The batteries in my 1975 Grundig Concert Boy 1100 last for about 6 weeks; those in my Grundig-labelled DAB radio lasted one day.
    My first DAB radio died just outside the guarantee period and went to recycling whereas the Grundig has only ever needed minor (DIY) mechanical repairs – far too much modern electrical kit goes to landfill.
    I have direct line of sight to the Crystal Palace transmitter, 8 miles, but moving a DAB radio from downstairs to upstairs it has to be re-tuned – absurd.
    The government should conduct an online survey to establish what radios are currently in use, the cost to the user of replacing FM with DAB, and explain just why there is a supposed benefit in replacing perfectly good radios with unreliable ones.
    FM should not be turned off until the reliability of DAB radios is considerably improved and 95% of the population have them.

  43. Ian. says:

    Bad Idea, I listen to FM only because every set I own is FM only, I’m perfectly happy with what I have. If they switch off FM transmissions, I’ll probably stop listening to radio, until I can justify buying a DAB set by which time I hope they will be better than the one’s currently available. They all seem to have many disadvantages right now. So the advertising companies will not reach me, until I choose to switch. Many many other people will probably do the same for various reasons, so media industries should consider that they will loose (in the short term at least) a significant advertising channel. There is no benefit for DAB for the consumer.

  44. Periodically the BBC bombards us with adverts for digital radio- particularly round Christmas.
    One year I counted 5 times! An all purpose northern voice was having a scripted conversation which ended with the words “Well, I feel outdated now”
    How DARE the BBC talk down to me!
    It’s all about how much money can be made selling off the frequency, big business not wanting to having to keep their transmitters working and all the money to be made in selling digital licences to broadcasters.
    I have 11 FM radios in my hose -all used- how green would that be to put them in a hole in the ground?

  45. John H. says:

    My P…..r tuner bought in the mid 70’s is a piece of art. The sound from Radio 3 is amazing and I love sitting down and listening and looking at the lovely blue lit analogue tuner, rolling the tuning dial along and having that in-the-room effect from voice and musicians cannot be replicated by dab. I have a dab radio but it scoffs batteries, cuts out when I move my arm and the additional plethora of stations adds nothing to life. I often wonder why some of them even bother to broadcast. Keep FM at least until I peg out, hopefully at least 30 years away.

  46. John Michael Richards says:

    I was delighted on Monday, 19th March 2018 to read an article in a UK daily newspaper stating that the government have now abandoned plans to turn off FM transmissions as the uptake of DAB radios has fallen short of expectations.

    I am delighted to hear this as I much prefer the sound of analogue to the heavily compressed audio of DAB and DAB+ . I do have five DAB portable radios in the house and a Cambridge Audio DAB hi-fi tuner but the coexist with my FM analogue sets too. One is a portable B&O Beolit 500 which I’ve owned since 1978 and some forty years on is still delivering excellent reception and sound delivery; why then should I be forced to consign this to landfill by an ill-thought-out switchover?

    I listen to the radio a lot on multiple devices. One of my favourite means of listening to the mono output of BBC Radio 4 is on an old Dansette RG35 – the valves and old speaker render a wonderful mellifluous sound. Similarly, although my main hi-fi tuner is an Arcam Delta 80 which itself offers superb sound I often switch over to my Leak Troughline – again for the warmth it adds to speech broadcasts. I have not encountered such warm, embracing sound from any DAB set, not even those reconfigured with valves.

    Aside from my own preferences for the sound quality, I always thought it wholly unethical to consign millions of radio sets, tuners and receivers in the home and vehicles to landfill, when they otherwise remain utterly serviceable. We owe it to our planet and future generations to ensure this does not happen.

    I rather think of DAB now as the big white elephant in the room, as rather than analogue becoming obsolete (which evidently it has not when one looks at vinyl sales vs CD and downloads, and the mammoth increase in turntable sales) it is, in fact, DAB which is obsolete. The first nail in the DAB coffin was the digital switch-over of TV – this meant that TVs could receive the multitude of new domestic and overseas radio stations via Freeview and Freesat. Moreover, whereas the manufacturers have been attempting to show ever-more information on the tiny LCD displays of DAB radio sets, this is wholly futile when compared to what can be shown on a TV screen. Even so I love radio because I can listen to it without being distracted by having to look at a display – I have TV for that. Radio broadcasters seem to be forgetting the purpose and beauty of radio. They’re attempting to make it a poor sibling of TV when in reality, good radio is the elder statesperson.

    The second, though crucial, nail in the DAB radio coffin is Internet Radio – no longer the preserve of geeks: it is readily available now, not merely through dedicated streaming sets, but also apps in the home on our computers and smart TV sets, and on the move in modern cars and on smartphones. This means no outlay is necessary for DAB sets and crucially means that in a car, an old analogue radio can now be tuned in to a Bluetooth to FM transmitter adaptor so that digital radio streaming can be transmitted from our smartphones and other devices and head over the car’s original analogue tuner – minimal cost involved and no radios sent to landfill. Internet radio offers two further advantages over the abysmal DAB available in the UK: firstly it can be streamed at very high bit rates thereby giving better sound than CD, let alone the inferior DAB. Plus it offers the chance to stream mono speech audio at lower bit rates. Secondly and perhaps most usefully, whereas DAB radios suffer from high power consumption and so eat batteries as a Blackpool beach donkey on amphetamines would munch through carrots, the streaming devices require very little power. So now we have fewer batteries (with their heavy metal toxic chemicals) going to landfill and rechargeable batteries requiring less frequent charging.

    Lastly – we can all run our daily lives with the precision of a Swiss clock with the assurance that the Greenwich pips are heard over BBC Radio 4 in real time, and not with the three to eight-second delay encountered on DAB radios.

  47. Andrew Lenton says:

    Hmm!!! all very interesting, all BBC and commercial “FM” radio is digitally delivered to the transmitter site, however, it then goes through a digital sometimes analogue compressor, before it is transmitted. The Commercial stations like to be louder than their competitor, so they compress the most, it all sounds horrid. DAB and DAB + can offer a better fidelity, however, there are only 2048 KB/S bits per DAB MUX to deliver this. if you include error correction then there is only 1 MB to carry the services. Most services run at 128KB (Joint stereo) using MPEG 2, this coding now over 30 years old. DAB+ uses AAC coding (newer and designed for music), but the bits rates being transmitted on DAB is 20KB and 32KB, so still rather poor quality.

    D1 has crammed in so many stations than most are running in mono, so we are in affect back to 1955. Both DAB and FM services are transmitted at VHF, 88-108MHz, however, DAB is using band III, 174 to 240 MHZ), old television 405 line spectrum, which is a fine band for fixed high gain aerial at 25 foot on the roof, but not that good for a small telescopic whip on most DAB radios. The DAB wave length is shorter, and does not go over hills so well, plus DAB transmitters are only running a few 10’s of Watts to 1000 Watts, there are a few that are higher. There are 1000’s of lower powered DAB transmitters to fill in all the dips in the landscape, but reception can be patching in hilly areas. FM main transmitters can run anything up to 12.5KW and are cross polarised, so the e.r.p (effective radiated power) can be up to 250KW! (Rowridge, Wrotham ect.) The 100 MHz was so good at getting over hills, it was used by the police up until the mid-80’s, the spectrum released became Radio 1, hence it is not in sequence on the dial. When CD’s were launched they were not compressed and had high dynamic range some 110dB, check out Brother in arms by Dire Straits, but todays CD’s in the pop world are now compressed, I know not why.

    Wall Mart “ sell them cheap and stack them high” if you are selling spectrum you want as many paying stations on your MUX, Planet Rock went from 128, to 112 now 80KB mono as more stations were crammed in. The £ is supreme, the broadcasters will get away with lowest quality as possible to cram more in.

    DAB could be far better than FM, but it will never happen, it is no good arguing which one is better, but we need to reduce the amount of stations on each MUX or have more MUXs’. The BBC say you get more choice on DAB (this is code for more stations with lower quality in mono)

    There are other issues, Car Radios, radio aerials have gone out of fashion, so we have none on our phones and fewer on our cars, so all our phones are car radios are now deaf as a post, if we did not need aerials, we would not have them on tall mast on tops of hills! The solutions is more infills for your phone, the average phone is .5 of a mile from a mast.

    Older car radios used a 75-95 Ohm low capacitance lead to receive MW (AM) from a rod aerial on your car, by luck this is a ¼ wave at VHF FM frequencies, so worked fairly well connected to a heated wind screen or stick on glass aerial. This is not the case with DAB, all DAB radios have a DAB module inside with a 50 Ohm low impedance, this requires a properly match ¼ wave or 5/8 wave real aerial on the roof of your car preferable in the middle. But they are out of fashion, and the car manufactures’ are not going to stick a second aerial on a car for DAB. To get wider bandwidth on an aerial it need to be fatter, so you will now see shake fin aerial on some newer cars, the do match to VHF (FM), MW, (AM) and GPS, but have no signal gain at all, they may incorporate an RF amplifier, but this does no replace an aerial sticking put the top of your car, a 5/8 wave aerial will have up to 4.2dB gain, a d shark’s fin will be around -6dB gain, no wonder e lose DAB reception.

    We could campaign for DRM on MW that is an actual improvement and will work with existing aerials that are left. DAB portable radios will always consume more power, perhaps they all need to be rechargeable next to your phone.

  48. Andrew Lenton says:

    sorry for the few typos1! above

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