UK DAB Funding Issue in Play

December 1, 2010

A simmering debate about who's responsible for increasing DAB coverage in the UK to equal that of analog FM boiled over last week, as a majority of commercial radio outlets there linked arms in a refusal to participate in a major DAB holiday promotion.

According to an article by John Plunkett in the, commercial radio group owners Global, Bauer, and UKRD turned down a flight of promotional spots touting the advantages of DAB radio. The move was widely interpreted as a protest of the BBC's failure to ante up an estimated $150 to $300 million needed to improve the national digital transmission network shared by commercial and public broadcasters.

The dispute over who will pick up the tab has picked up momentum in recent months, driven by commercial broadcasters who say they can't commit to a digital transition without coverage parity, something they claim the BBC previously committed to see through. But BBC officials say that money simply isn't available because a recent national license fee settlement contains no provision for building out the balance of transmission sites needed.

Like a number of other EU states beset by the global recession, the UK is currently undergoing an intense austerity program aimed at reducing government and private debt.

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