BBC responds to ‘DAB doomed’ predictions

Following yesterday’s news that one of the UK’s leading commercial radio companies, GCap Media, is to cut back on its digital radio output, the BBC has hit back against reports that the DAB platform is doomed.

GCap is set to axe theJazz and Planet Rock stations claiming that DAB was "not economically viable” which begs the question – is DAB heading towards the same tech graveyard as HD DVD?

BBC continues to support DAB

Jenny Abramsky, director of BBC Audio & Music, certainly doesn’t think so, telling today that:

"The BBC has been at the forefront of digital radio for more than 10 years and remains fully committed to DAB and the other digital delivery platforms. There's an exciting future for radio. It is central to the lives of huge numbers of people who listen every week.

A digital success story

The BBC is certainly keen to continue to back DAB. "It is important not to confuse GCap's current strategy with success or failure of DAB. DAB is a success story – two million sets were sold in 2007 – and is part of the digital future of radio. More than 22 per cent of UK adults now claim to have DAB at home and it makes up 10 per cent of all radio listening," said Abramsky.

"Recent RAJAR listening figures show that nearly 5.6 million people tune into BBC Radio via DAB each week and the BBC's digital-only networks continue to grow, with two networks – 6 Music and BBC 7 – recently posting record listening figures… DAB plays a central role in maintaining radio's popularity in the digital world, being easy to use and portable while giving listeners more choice and a range of additional features such as programme related information and storage.”

Healthy radio sales over Christmas

Meanwhile, the latest sales figures of DAB radios also seem to conflict with GCap’s negative predictions for the format, according to Intellect, the trade association for the UK technology industry.

Over one million DAB radio sets were bought in the fourth quarter of 2007 in the UK, with more than 550,000 DAB radios sold in December alone, up 22 per cent on December 2006. In total, over 6.45 million DAB radios were sold in the UK at the end of 2007, up from 4.4 million in 2006.

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