DRDB: Analogue radio is '19th-century tech'

Hits back at recent anti-DAB coverage in national press

Digital Radio Development Bureau hits back at DAB critics claiming analogue radio is a 19th century technology not fit for the 21st

Following the publication of Lord Carter's Digital Britain report earlier this month, the Digital Radio Development Bureau (DRDB) – the trade body representing DAB radio in the UK – has hit back at recent critics of the proposed analogue to digital radio switchover.

TechRadar reported earlier today on anti-DAB diatribes by The Times's Libby Purves and (via MediaGuardian) ex-Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie.

The DRDB's Mandy Green reminds us that Mr MacKenzie "has a vested interest in seeing analogue radio continue as he wants to bid on the existing analogue national commercial licences when they come up in a few years time.

"Digital Britain proposed the licences for TalkSport, Classic FM and Absolute are rolled over in return for continued investment in DAB. This would scupper any plans MacKenzie might have to secure one of the national licences for himself."

How many analogue radios in UK?

Yet while MacKenzie's vested interests in delaying the switchover to digital radio are fairly clear, what of Libby Purves' accusations in The Times earlier this month that "hundreds of millions of non-digital radios exist"?

According to the DRDB, this is not the case, who note that "Ofcom says that far fewer (around 46 million) analogue radios are in regular use in UK homes." Additionally, the DRDB predicts that around one-third of those radios will be DAB by the end of 2011.

And as for the regular criticisms levelled at DAB from hi-fi buffs and audiophiles, the DRDB's line remains the same. "Hi-fi enthusiasts buy less than 1% of the 10 million radio products sold each year," argues the DRDB, plus, "more than 80% of 20,000 DAB owners surveyed found the sound quality "good to excellent"."

In-car and eco-friendly

Finally, in relation to the issue of DAB radio in cars, the DRDB reminds us that, "seventeen of the top car manufacturers offer DAB as standard or an optional upgrade" and, on the power consumption issue argue that "many DAB radios are accredited by bodies like the Energy Saving Trust, using a quarter of the power of a low energy lightbulb and costing just 60p a year with average use."

Clearly it is the job of the DRDB to defend and promote DAB at every turn, but the facts and figures above do put the recent anti-DAB criticisms into a little more context.

"Far from "disenfranchising" listeners, DAB offers unique stations for children, the gay community, traffic information, "green" issues, extra sport, unsigned bands etc," according to the Digital Radio Development Bureau.

"[DAB] often doubles the number of radio services available, bringing a new listening experience to millions of people….[while] analogue radio is a 19th century technology struggling to stay in touch with the 21st century."

For more on the DRDB, check out the organisation's website.