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Keep FM Radio

Comment 16th July 2010

I recognise that Mr Vaizey has made some mildly encouraging noises recently but I wish to add my voice to the debate about the threatened shut down of the FM channels on the radio. The FM Channels MUST be maintained. My concerns fall into two areas:

1. Cost

2. Performance

1. I have 7 FM receivers about the house and one in the car. I would not afford to replace them with similar quality DAB devices so I would do without. As I listen only to BBC R3 & R4, there is no obvious net gain (to me) from switching to DAB, merely additional unnecessary expense.

2. Currently, DAB is not fit for purpose. I have only one DAB receiver (a portable) which I use when I am out walking the dog but it suffers from frequent "hiccups". I have approached the BBC in the past to ask if the DAB signal is poor in the Gosport area and they tell me all is fine. Well, it is not fine! DAB does not work properly. Even when reception strength is OK, the sound quality is as good on DAB as it is with FM.

Why does this matter?

My DVB reception via FREEVIEW is also prone to these "hiccups" but because the quality of the TV programmes is generally so poor, I feel I do not miss much. However, BBC R3 & R4 are excellent stations and I resent missing even a moment of them. Mr Vaizey may now be less bullish than hitherto about sticking to the 2015 switch off date but he was full of prevarication and lacked transparency in his statement. On 8th July, he said ''I am not setting a date. The industry believes 2015 is an achievable target date and we will work to support that ambition. And when the weight of public opinion is behind it, with more than half of all radio listening digital, then we can take the decision on when the country will be ready for switchover.'' I am suspicious; who will measure public opinion? Even if more than half the listeners are using digital, there will still be a little bit less than half who are not.

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