The Fox in the Chicken Coop

Greg Smith sends along a link to a blog post that sounds way too familiar to the situation here. It’s Grant Goddard’s blog (link also on right), who posts up on radio doings in England. What’s happening with their DAB system  — which in itself is superior to IBOC and HD radio because it doesn’t interfere with adjacent signals — strikes a little too close to home:

During the first decade of DAB, a scrappage scheme would have been unthinkable. All parties involved in launching DAB were too busy rubbing their hands at the very anticipation of the profits that would be coming their way. High-priced DAB receivers, monopoly control of DAB airwaves and cheap, DJ-free jukebox digital radio stations. You could almost see the pound signs in the eyes of DAB stakeholders.

How times have changed. The DAB radio industry is now a salvage operation. It is a passé technology and the current objective is simply to shift as many of those brick-shaped DAB radios out of storage warehouses as possible, almost at any price. The present period before DAB is finally pronounced DOA is time limited. After that, DAB radios will become the Tamagotchi of the broadcast sector.

The most damning part of all this is the boldness with which the radio industry is still prepared to foist a technology on the public that, in many listening situations, is so technically inadequate. Instead of fixing the problems with DAB reception (which would cost a fortune), the industry just persists in maintaining its stance that DAB radio is fine. But trying to dupe your customers (particularly when radio is the most ‘trusted’ medium, according to Ofcom) must be counterproductive. Crime doesn’t pay if your business model requires loyal listeners.

Just as damning is the industry’s refusal to accept that it is ‘content’ that drives radio listening. Why would anyone buy a relatively expensive DAB radio when it offers so little content over and above what can already be accessed via AM/FM, digital TV, mobile phones and the internet? Commercial radio’s closure of most of its digital stations, followed this year by BBC proposals to axe two of its digital stations, hardly inspire consumer confidence in DAB [emphasis added].

Complicit in this is the radio industry’s willingness to endorse DAB radio set manufacturers’ increasingly desperate measures to shift their products. . . .

On the one hand, it will make you laugh with incredulity. On the other hand, if you love the radio medium, it will make you cry. Sorry, but when exactly was it that snake oil salesmen took over this industry?

All you have to do is Google “HD radio” to see all the companies flogging the system, dead though it may be, or read iBiquity CEO Bob Struble’s disingenuous claims that IBOC will save radio. And the FCC, supposedly the watchdog for the industry, has looked on in insipid obeisance while these companies continue to pawn this scam off on the American consumer.

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One Response

  1. “Bleedin’ hell” was the first phrase that came to mind. It would appear (at least) that two groups of swindlers on both sides of the Atlantic developed and then attempted to sell the same scam to their own citizens, who, it turned out, are far smarter than the swindlers had hoped. At least the UK still has Radio Caroline. We’ve got -nothing- comparable to them.

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