The Truth, Halfway Around the World

Our erstwhile compatriot across the pond in the UK, Grant Goddard, has done yeoman’s duty in exposing the hype associated with digital radio here as well as abroad. In this post, entitled “Download The First Annual Not ‘The Ofcom Digital Radio Progress Report’ Report,” Grant pokes holes in the just the latest of the overblown flackery posited by the forces of digital evil. The first part of the post deals with the skullduggery practiced by Brit government authorities in their report on digital acceptance in the UK. To illustrate, he gathered data from widely available sources (which itself makes interesting reading):

In the spirit of constructive action, I have collated a short collection of graphs and tables in a presentation titled The First Annual Not ‘The Ofcom Digital Radio Progress Report’ Report. It can be downloaded here for free. All of the data within are derived from freely published industry sources to which Ofcom had access.

The first section of the report demonstrates that none of the radio industry forecasts for UK digital radio take-up stand a chance of being achieved, whether those predictions were made by the government, its committees, Ofcom, RadioCentre, Value Partners or whomever. These forecasts were not just wrong – they were wildly wrong.

Next up on the skewer, the predictions of American flacks (ABI Research, in some sort of hallucinogen-inspired forecast):

The inability of forecasters to observe the reality of slowing DAB radio take-up in the UK was underlined by a forecast published in August 2010 by a US company that predicted:

“By 2015, the worldwide installed base of digital radio receivers, excluding handsets, is expected to reach nearly 200 million units. . . . ‘The adoption of DAB radios in Europe has been led primarily by tabletop radio sales in the UK,’ says [Sam] Rosen. In addition to the US and the UK, Switzerland, Denmark, and Norway all have significant broadcast infrastructure in place, with Australia, Germany and France to complete the majority of their infrastructure in 2011.”

Yes, and pigs will fly. It has taken a decade for 11 million DAB radios to be sold in the UK, and they still only account for 16% of radio listening. Far from the UK’s DAB broadcast infrastructure being almost complete, there is an impasse about who will stump up the money to render it fit for purpose. France is still debating whether to go digital at all. Germany abandoned its first effort and is planning a second attempt. Besides, the US, UK, French and Australian technology systems for digital terrestrial radio are each mutually exclusive. There is no globally agreed standard for digital terrestrial radio, so there is no universal ‘digital radio’ receiver, and nothing like 200 million digital radios (of all types) will be sold by 2015.

The iBiquity cabal might has well be claiming that they will begin colonization of Mars next month. Grant lands some serious body blows for reality with the following:

But a woefully inaccurate, over-optimistic forecast is always a good excuse for writing fantasy news. In the US, Media Post reported:

“HD digital radio is poised for rapid growth over the next few years … with much of the increase coming abroad, especially in Europe, where various governments have established HD radio as the national standard…. US consumers have purchased 4 million HD radio sets, while European consumers – led by the UK – have purchased about 13.5 million.”

Oh dear. Lie One: the American HD radio system is not a national standard in any European country. Lie Two: not a single HD radio has been sold in the UK. Lie Three: maybe 13 HD radios have been sold in Europe, but certainly not 13 million.

Consequently, US broadcast industry trade body NAB summarised this completely inaccurate news story (“… the real growth is happening overseas, where governments have already established HD [radio] as a standard technology”) and sent it to everyone on its mailing list. The whole of the US radio sector must be amazed that Europe, led by the UK, has embraced American HD radio technology so warmly, while it is failing so dismally in its homeland. Wrong! In reality, no consumer in Europe has even heard of HD radio (except for a few techies testing it in Switzerland).

And here, amidst further impaling of Brit bean counters en brochette, a rather salient observation about the future of digital: “Maybe the penny has dropped — a platform remains no more than a platform if you cannot afford to fill it with compelling, exclusive radio content, and convince consumers to use it, and generate a profit from it.”

The writing on the wall for DAB’s impending failure is writ so large now that Ofcom staff must have to leave work under cover of darkness not to see it. Large parts of the radio industry evidently have no faith in DAB ever replacing analogue radio. However, over at Ofcom HQ, the futile work continues to try and convince consumers and the government that DAB is still ‘the future of radio.’ We will probably never know how much public money and time has been wasted on these foolish endeavours.

God save the queen and God bless Grant Goddard for standing up for truth, when lies are flying worldwide in an attempt to flimflam the public.

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One Response

  1. Is it any wonder, with the NAB/NRSC Board Members as investors in iBiquity, that they would throw analog AM/FM under the bus?

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