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OT - Ofcom DAB Consulation Closes at 5pm Today

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Old March 7th 05, 01:03 PM posted to uk.telecom.broadband
DAB sounds worse than FM
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Default OT - Ofcom DAB Consulation Closes at 5pm Today

The email address to send responses to the public consultation is


This consultation represents the last opportunity the general public has
to express their views on the dreadful state of the audio quality on
DAB, and to express their opposition to Ofcom's proposals that the
commercial radio groups should be allowed to actually drop the bit rates
of their stereo stations and to deny the BBC any additional capacity to
improve their audio quality. So I would urge as many people as possible
respond to this consultation, no matter how short an email you send.

I've gone into more detail on my home page
http://www.digitalradiotech.co.uk/index.htm) about the 2 Ofcom
proposals that are designed to financially benefit the commercial radio
groups at the expense of listeners, but here's the issues in brief:

* Ofcom have proposed to change the regulation of audio quality so that
the commercial radio groups can drop the bit rates of their stereo
stations to 112kbps. To give you an indication of the audio quality that
Ofcom proposes to allow: the audio quality of 32kbps using the HE AAC
codec is significantly better than the minimum audio quality that Ofcom
will allow!

Their reason for proposing this change is that the DAB multiplex
operators (which are all owned by the commercial radio groups) would
make an additional 4-5 million per annum, and the cost of this to the
listener is that 7 stations on a multiplex would have to have their bit
rates cut from 128kbps to 112kbps in order to fit in 1 additional
112kbps station. One of the main justifications that Ofcom use for this
proposal is that they claim that people want more radio stations, but in
Ofcom-commissioned MORI market research 63% cited better sound quality
as the main advantage of DAB compared to only 21% citing extra stations
as being the main advantage. So, I would say this proposal is purely to
benefit the commercial radio groups at the expense of the general

Ofcom's proposals also affect radio stations via digital TV platforms.

* Ofcom propose to licence 2 national DAB channels in a different way to
the way they licensed the current national DAB multiplex (using the
Wireless Telegraphy Act instead of the Broadcasting Act). I think the
main reason for this change is that it allows the channels to be
auctioned. But this change gives rise to the following negative

1. Ofcom are powerless to stop the winner of the auction from denying
the BBC or any of the competing commercial radio groups capacity on the
multiplex. And when you consider that Tim Gardam wrote in his review of
the BBC's digital radio services that, with regards to DAB spectrum and
capacity: "The commercial sector is agreed that the BBC should have no
more space", and that the BBC are extremely unlikely to win an auction
when they're up against the commercial radio groups (they've lost nearly
all of their sports rights to the commercial sector because the cost
involved wasn't deemed to be a good use of licence-fee money) then
despite the fact that the BBC have said that they would like to acquire
more DAB capacity to improve the audio quality of their stations,
Ofcom's proposal would make it almost certain that they would not be
allowed to acquire any additional capacity to do so.

The issue of the BBC's DAB bit rates has consistently been the issue
that most people have been concerned about in all previous DAB-related
public consultations, and given the fact that the BBC's share of all
radio listening is over 50%, then allowing the commercial radio groups
to deny the BBC additional capacity to increase their bit rates is the
absolute opposite of what would be in the best interests of the general

2. quoting from Ofcom's consultation document, licensing the national
DAB multiplexes under the Wireless Telegraphy Act "would not necessarily
have a requirement to broadcast any radio services". So, whoever wins
the auctions would be free to use the whole capacity for subscription or
pay-per-view/listen data services, thus not providing a single
additional radio station. This speaks for itself as being against the
interests of the vast majority of the general public, IMO.

The only proposal that I am in favour of is that Ofcom have said that
they are prepated to suggest to Tessa Jowell to relax the current 10%
limit on non-TV services on DTT so as to allow more radio stations to
transmit on DTT, or (doubtful I know) increase the bit rates of the
existing stations. Although I know that some people are against radio
being transmitted on digital TV systems, it should be borne in mind that
you can fit 27 x 128kbps radio stations into the 3.5 Mbps for the
average TV channel, and because we've already got 24 digital radio
stations on DTT then there won't be many additional stations anyway, so
it should be easy to find the space.

The main consultation document can be downloaded he


and all the consultation documents including Appendices can be
downloaded from the bottom of this page:


The section on DAB is section 7, on pages 88 - 149, but Ofcom's
proposals for DAB are in section 7.8 "Overcoming the obstacles to
further development" on pages 135 - 147, with the most controversial
proposals on pages 143 - 146.

Steve - www.digitalradiotech.co.uk - Digital Radio News & Info

Find the cheapest Freeview, DAB & MP3 Player Prices:


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