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.