Ashley Tabor, who runs commercial radio effort Global, has been moaning to the Radio Festival that the BBC isn't pouring enough cash down the DAB drain:
BBC director general Mark Thompson recently confirmed that the corporation would fund the rollout of its national digital multiplex to reach 97% of the population.I suspect there has been a conclusion - the BBC concluding that it's probably best to not take calls from Tabor any more.
But Tabor said the issue of local and regional DAB coverage was still unresolved, something he had spent "all year" raising with the BBC without conclusion.
Ten years ago, DAB had its crack at being the coming thing, and a speedy roll-out would have cemented its position as a distribution mechanism. But the commercially-funded plans were never fulfilled, and now: well, who would buy a DAB radio instead of one that uses IP radio instead? Is anyone really thinking the pisspoor commercial selection of channels on DAB is going to make a purchase of DAB a better bet? "Oh, why would I want thousands and thousands of audio channels when I could instead have three or four slightly different variants of Capital?"
If DAB had any sort of future, the commercial sector would be rushing to build it and enjoy the riches for itself. Instead, it expects the BBC to fund its distribution network for it.
"What has not been agreed yet is the local and regional layers which are not yet at FM equivalent. That is really important," Tabor told the Radio Festival in Salford on Tuesday.Digital radio, absolutely. Radio as part of the digital world, certainly. But that it doesn't follow that DAB is the delivery mechanism for that. Given commercial radio isn't that interested in making programmes or networks for DAB, and people don't want to buy DAB radios, why try and bully the BBC into building transmitters to link up the two uninterested parties?
"Does digital radio have a place in the broadcast ecology? Of course. Does radio have a place in digital? Of course. That's a very different thing to switchover.
"At the moment 68% of listening is still analogue, FM reaches every valley in the country. DAB doesn't. That's a key issue and the funding to build that out still hasn't been nailed yet."