Written by Media, Radio

The Launch of DAB Digital Radio

Today there are over seven million DAB digital radios in use in the UK, although it’s future still has a few question marks hanging over it rightly or wrongly. But it’s fascinating to go back and see how the system was first launched.
So amongst some of the videos I’ve recently been going through at Virgin Radio, I was interested to find the following.
The first is a BBC TV News report covering the BBC’s launch of services to actually listen to. Edward Stourton tells us that the first radios won’t be available for a couple of years when they’ll cost £700. And there’s a cracking shot of a group of people on a coach all listening via headphones to the service in this report from Torin Douglas.
Ironically, the main technical advantage that’s given in this report over FM, is the ability to listen to DAB in the car, when in reality that’s the main obstacle that’s still to be overcome with in-car radios still relatively rare, and audio cutting out in a more irritating fashion than FM does.
It’s also interesting to hear that the cost of DAB was a worry for commercial radio from the very start with Virgin Radio’s own David Campbell concerned about costs.

A couple of years later and consumer DAB sets were very nearly ready. So Tomorrow’s World covered DAB in this report. The sounds a bit poor, I’m afraid, as the VHS tape it was captured from was pretty poor and quite possibly a second generation tape.
It’s probably best to gloss over references to “CD quality”, but again there are lots of references to the poor quality of FM on the move. And I wonder where you can get one of those DAB Renault Espaces?
Sadly we never have reached the point where we can choose between five different football commentaries, but then the rights holders probably preclude that to an extent (in TV of course we have interactive Olympics on the BBC, and Sky offering nearly every Champions’ League game).
And we’ve still got a way to go before we see screens like those demoed by Peter Snow at the end of Jez Nelson’s report.