BBC Chairman Calls UK's DAB Uptake 'Disappointing'

July 7, 2010

BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons may be ruffling a few feathers in UK policy circles, but the head of one the world's most prestigious broadcast organizations concludes in an official strategy review that DAB's adoption in the UK has been a disappointment and that Internet distribution of digital audio content is being considered by some as a potential successor to DAB.

The chairman's comments, part of a summary taken from the BBC Trust's annual strategy review, reflect continuing disenchantment with DAB's performance in today's mobile media environment. "DAB remains the principal method of digital listening, and its take-up is widely regarded as having been disappointing overall," Lyons says, "this is attributed in part to the constraints it suffers in terms of mobility—for instance, its general nonavailability in cars"

Even so, Lyons stopped short of offering any clear support to those calling for a switch up to broadband as a replacement for DAB, noting that Internet stream delivery suffers from "similar, if not worse mobility constraints."

One other item worth noting for UK DAB watchers is that the strategy review seems to discount a previous executive recommendation to shut down BBC 6 Music, a national DAB-only channel. Press coverage of that proposal last year produced a firestorm of protest from prominent 6Music supporters including national rock icon David Bowie.

In its review, the BBC also acknowledges that significant cutbacks will need to be made in both conventional broadcast and online sites to meet an urgent call for austerity in public spending by the new conservative government.

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