UK Commercial Radio to BBC: Ante up on DAB Costs Now

October 6, 2010

Global Radio CEO Ashley Tabor says a lot more infrastructure investment is needed to improve coverage of Britain's DAB national multiplex network before serious consideration can be given to turning off its analog radio counterparts. And he wants the BBC to finish the job and pick up the tab sooner rather than later.

According to an article at the, the 33-year-old Tabor says that while he's "excited" by the long term prospects of digital, the cost of expanding UK DAB coverage to match analog signals across the UK could run an additional $240M to $320M -- an outlay commercial operators like Global say they simply can't afford. Instead, Tabor suggests the BBC needs to assume capital outlay burdens needed to make DAB signals accessible to 90 percent of the population now in order assure that commercial operators can operate profitably in a digital only environment. Only when signal parity is achieved and consumer uptake of radios advances does Tabor believe that commercial operators will be able to shoulder their fair share of multiplex operating costs.

The Guardian also notes that Tabor apparently took his cue from the Consumer Experts Group (CEG), a British governmental organization that recently released a report questioning the viability of the ongoing target date of 2015 for a switch-off of national analog radio signals. Unlike Tabor, however, the CEG report calls into question not only the current transition date, but some of the metrics regulators have used in projecting it as well.

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