The Age of Incivility

In his latest post, the UK’s Grant Goddard skewers the DAB crew with characteristic aplomb. The lead paragraph tells the tale:

Governments have had plenty of practice, over many years, of hiding reports from the electorate. In some cases, they might justify this as a matter of national security or military expedience. However, it is hard to understand how the UK government thought it could justify hiding from the public a cost/benefit analysis of digital radio switchover it had commissioned and then, a year later, have believed the matter had been successfully buried. But so it was, until the House of Lords Communications Committee intervened in early 2010.

As ever worth the read, Grant’s post contains the following zingers:

The PWC report, and its verdict that digital radio switchover offers almost no benefits, remained hidden from public view from February until November 2009, when an appendix to the government’s Digital Economy Bill mentioned it casually. That citation raised questions: what was this PWC report, and why could not the public see it?

And this from an amusing exchange with those charged with ferreting out the truth:

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall: The thing that is slightly troubling — perhaps only to me, but a bit — is that when you see what appears to be evidence that the costs and benefits are, let’s say, finely balanced, or could be, that the drive towards digital migration, one might think, was driven more by the technology than by the needs either of the broadcasters or the consumers.

And this, the government response:

“The Cost Benefit Analysis produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers, to accompany the work of the Digital Radio Working Group, was widely distributed amongst broadcasters and consumer representatives. However, there were technical difficulties which prevented the initial publication of the report on the DCMS website; these were rectified and the report published in February 2010.”

“Technical difficulties” for a whole year? As excuses go, this really takes the biscuit. It seems unlikely that the PWC report would ever have been made public, if not for the intervention of the House of Lords Communications Committee in January 2010 (first publication of the report’s findings was in this blog a few days later).

As Grant later notes, Rupert Murdoch’s bean counters had looked into the implementation of DAB and decided against it. He concludes: “If Murdoch cannot see a way to make a profit from a broadcast platform that is crying out for compelling content, then how exactly does any other content owner think it can make a financial return from DAB radio?”

Amusing, yes, but redolent of the government complicity here — including an FCC that cowers as industry lapdog while IBOC conspirators bandy about all manner of spurious claims for their half-baked product. It does, however, take on a far nastier tone here — in our age of incivility — with attempts by independent investigators in the blogosphere met by ad hominem attacks on their integrity by goon accomplices (and a clueless mainstream media oblivious to any problem). The politesse and decorum of our English brethren — even while alluding to the fact that the adversary may in truth be a scurvy dog — is admirable and well worth emulating.

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5 Responses

  1. […] on HD can be found here, a perfect example of the age of incivility posted on here (“The Age of Incivility”) — where, under the guise of anonymity, anyone can be as […]

  2. James,

    Let’s look at my “harrassment” of you over “the last twelve years”, shall we?

    * The first time I *ever* came across you was in 2002, which was 9 years ago – so suggesting that I’ve been harrassing you “for the last twelve years” is dishonest.

    * The only time we’ve actually “crossed swords”, so to speak, was a period in 2002 when I posted on your Media UK forum until you banned me for saying that I knew more about DAB technologies than you do (which was true then, and remains true to this day), then (according to my Sent Items and Inbox email folders) there was no contact between us whatsoever until 31st March 2008, which was after you’d started working for the BBC. So, again, your accusation that I’ve been harrassing you for the last 12 years is simply dishonest.

    * A Google search of my website for “cridland” only produces hits that date from April 2008 onwards (i.e. after you joined the BBC):

    http://tinyurl.com/3547qbq

    * I also initially welcomed your appointment at the BBC, e.g.:

    http://www.digitalradiotech.co.uk/2008/04/DAB_state_of_play.php

    “Anthony Rose, who’s in charge of the BBC iPlayer, does seem to have a good grasp of the strengths and weaknesses of video and audio codecs he’s using and such like, and James Cridland, who’s recently been put in charge of the Internet radio side of things, also seems to know his stuff.”

    Perhaps you consider that to be “harrassment”, James?

    * It was actually only after it became clear to me that you were trying to avoid providing the BBC’s Internet radio streams at 128 kbps AAC that the argument between us began – you did eventually launch them using 128 kbps AAC, but that didn’t invalidate what I’d been saying.

    The only time I’ve ever been rude about you has been on the very quiet alt.radio.digital Usenet newsgroup – and no-one is holding a gun to your head forcing you to read my posts on Usenet, so the term “harrassment” isn’t justified in the first place, let alone your claim that I’ve been harrassing you for 12 years.

    Furthermore, you and your mates have subjected me to 3 character assassinations (twice on Twitter and once in that blog about me).

    I’ve offered to have a truce with you, but the prerequisite for a truce is for you to remove that character assassination blog, which still contains numerous lies about me (and that’s even after you’ve removed 2 of the most vile accusations made about me).

    But you’re not prepared to do that. So don’t try to claim the moral high ground here, James, because that character assassination blog is worse than anything I’ve ever done against you – because one thing I can claim is that I’ve never lied about you.

  3. By reply to Greg, above,

    You would do well to understand the history of Steve’s harrassment towards me – a cursory search in the alt.radio.digital newsgroup (or on his website) would find plenty of personal bile being thrown my way from Mr Green over the last twelve years.

    I find it difficult to accept that harrassment is in any way acceptable towards people who are simply trying to do their jobs; and surprising that you apparently believe I cannot make my side of the story clear, given that Steve has made many personal accusations against me.

    For the record, I’m not Steve’s “nemesis” – I believe in a multi-platform future for radio (including analogue FM), and (like Steve) do not agree with the government-mandated switchoff of analogue FM. I have made this very clear: http://james.cridland.net/blog/let-the-market-decide-the-digital-switchover-question/

    And, for the record, I am also a human being with feelings.

    Thanks for your understanding.

  4. Then, there’s also the ongoing attacks from anonymous “Guy Wire” of Radio World against Bob Savage and WYSL:

    http://www.rwonline.com/article/83210

  5. Interesting that you should bring this up. Steve Green runs http://www.digitalradiotech.co.uk/ in the UK and is a harsh critic of DAB. Well, his nemesis is James Cridland, who launched this nasty personal attack against Steve:

    http://james.cridland.net/blog/steve-green-digitalradiotech/

    I have experienced many personal attacks and even threatening email from IBOC proponents. Their ploy seems to be directed at discrediting IBOC opponents. I read a comment on the Web from an anonymous broadcaster that iBiquity mildly threatened his station to convert. Digital radio is all about what broadcasters want, not the general public. Here’s a study that was done on iBiquity by Barrington Research in 2001:

    “iBiquity Digital Corporation”

    March 2001 – “If rollout targets are met, three years from product launch should find a roughly 10% digital broadcast penetration in terms of the share of radios able to receive digital broadcasts. By 2012, that share is projected to rise to 70%…. Ultimately, iBiquity will likely offer an attractive equity option in itself, with the most likely ultimate liquidity event being an IPO. However, the timing of any potential IPO does not appear to be imminent, or the need for added funds immediate. Any intermediate financing needs are expected to be relatively modest and funded by existing investors. None of the current owners want to dilute their relative ownership positions given the attractiveness and potential upside of the current business model. The market is not likely to be receptive over the near term to an IPO of a technology company with no current revenues.”

    http://www.brai.com/PDF/iBiquity.pdf

    Need I say more?

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