NEWS: Ofcom wades into DAB vs FM debate

Ofcom - the UK's regulator for the radio, TV and telecoms industries - has confirmed that despite the move to digital TV and radio, there is still no date set for the end of analogue FM broadcasts. An Ofcom director has also criticised current DAB quality standards.

Speaking at the BADA (British Audio-visual Dealers' Association) annual general meeting, Peter Davies – director of Radio & Multimedia at Ofcom – confirmed: "there is too much uncertainty to set the right end-dates for FM right now".

He cited lack of comprehensive digital radio coverage as the main reason for continuing with FM, revealing that even the brand-new commercial DAB multiplex to be launched next year - with 10 new stations and an element of radio-on-demand - will only reach 80 percent of UK listeners, rising to 88 percent eventually.

Asked about the falling bit-rates (and sound quality) across DAB, Davies said: "I don't think the sound quality is good enough". However, he added that Ofcom have no power to tell commercial broadcasters or the BBC to increase bit-rates and performance, as it was up to them to choose between quality or quantity of stations.

Davies: DAB quality "not good enough"

Even impressive DAB radios - like Pure's Evoke range - can struggle to make low-bitrate broadcasts sound good.

He added that he hoped technological advances would help DAB providers make low-bitrate broadcasts sound better.

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