Which I’m sure will please all those commercial media companies that always complain about how unfair it is that the BBC has all that public funding.
Come on guys, this is what you wanted, isn’t it? According to the Guardian, the BBC said in response to the government’s green paper on the broadcaster’s future yesterday: “Within the budget funding agreement, the BBC cannot fund the costs of such a switchover without significantly impacting services. It would be counter-productive for the BBC to be required to help fund switchover to a digital world from which it was simultaneously removing much-loved digital radio services”.
Putting a figure on the infrastructure cost of switchover, it continued: “Further build out of the [digital audio broadcasting] networks to reach the same coverage as FM would be a major undertaking, likely to increase radio distribution costs by between £40m to £45m a year exclusive of any work to maintain the existing networks. We are not convinced of the value for money case for any further such investment, particularly while digital listening remains below 50%, with DAB listening only a proportion of that”.
Currently overall digital listening in the UK stands at around 40%, and that figure includes radio services accessed through internet and TV platforms. As previously reported, the government’s original aim for convincing the public to stop using AM and FM services was this year, but during the last government media minister Ed Vaizey admitted that 2020 was now looking more likely. Meanwhile last year, OfCom started issuing twelve year analogue licences to broadcasters – increased from the seven years it cut them down to in 2010 – which would suggest it’s not really confident in a switchover coming before 2024.
The BBC did fund the campaign for the switchover to digital TV, which proved very successful. Though arguably we were already moving quite happily in that direction, aided by TV manufacturers deciding that we should all buy shiny new digital sets. To date, the growth of digital radio has not enjoyed such enthusiastic backing from across the whole industry.
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