DAB radio ads fuel row over digital switchover

By Sarah Arnott
Thursday 25 November 2010 01:00

Efforts to boost sales of DAB digital radios this Christmas are descending into farce, with one outspoken critic decrying the switchover plan as "an utter shambles" and the government-backed advertising campaign as "deceitful and misleading".

The analogue radio signal is set to be turned off in 2015. And the ad campaign now running on some commercial stations and the BBC is the biggest push so far to persuade listeners to upgrade to digital sets.

But a growing number of stations are refusing to run the ads, in an escalating row over the infrastructure needed to support the new platform.

William Rogers, the chief executive of UKRD Group, which owns 15 local stations, is the loudest voice against the plans for DAB. Mr Rogers attacks DAB for its lack of national coverage, claiming that even where the signal does exist it is of variable quality, and pointing out that not all stations will fit on to the new system.

"DAB is an utter shambles and the people responsible should be hanging their heads in shame," Mr Rogers said. "The latest Christmas ads are nothing short of the most appallingly deceitful and misleading campaign, and the BBC should be utterly ashamed of using licence fee money to persuade people to buy a radio that might not even work."

UKRD Group is not alone. Other groups, including Global Radio and GMG, are also holding off from the Christmas ads. But not all are so trenchant as Mr Rogers. The majority of the sector still backs the switch to DAB, fighting instead for part-funding the extra infrastructure from the BBC licence fee.

A spokeswoman for the industry body RadioCentre said: "Commercial radio operators are currently in talks with Government about the funding of local DAB coverage. Until those discussions are resolved some stations felt it would be inappropriate to run the digital radio Christmas campaign."

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments