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Digital Britain.

Eddie Mair | 13:51 UK time, Tuesday, 16 June 2009

1543: Read the full report here.

1530 UPDATE: BBC News coverage is here.

1355 UPDATE: This was the sixth photo in a very long list:

bbc1.JPG


On PM tonight we'll hear live from the man who wrote the report and from the chairman of the BBC Trust.

The report is out at 15.30 and you'll be able to read it and comment on it here.

I am just going into our photo archive, I will put "BBC" in the search and choose a photo that comes up.

1530 UPDATE: BBC News coverage is here.

Comments

  • 1. At 2:15pm on 16 Jun 2009, vainly_here wrote:

    Digital Britain is ageist.

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  • 2. At 2:52pm on 16 Jun 2009, Charlie wrote:


    I was wondering who the fellow in the photograph was. Silly me. It's the Beeb's Director General! Isn't it..?

    Anyway, he looks pleasant enough but then so does BA's Willie Walsh and he's now asking his staff to work for one-month of this year for no-pay (after all, dear old Willie's also giving-up one-month's pay, a mere GBP61,000... tough times ahead for him I reckon!)

    Interestingly, BA's denying that staff who "agree" to this scheme will be looked upon more-favourably should forced redundancies be required. As someone once said "Well they (he) would, wouldn't they (he)".

    And now, it appears, a significant portion of the Beeb's licence fee may be "given" to an ailing commercial broadcaster. Only fair I suppose because, in the days of high commercial broadcasting profitability, surely the reverse happened..?!

    So, back to the photo. I guess that's the DG's(?) "I'll be sticking the corporate salary suction-tube into you all soon" smile..?

    Spooooky...

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  • 3. At 2:59pm on 16 Jun 2009, funnyJoedunn wrote:

    I've seen him many times on the TV. I think he may be someone in the sports Dept?

    However my point is if you look into his eyes on the photo, after 10 seconds your hypnotised!

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  • 4. At 2:59pm on 16 Jun 2009, Dr Bee wrote:

    Last night on the news at 10 we were hearing calls from

    Some of the biggest names in stage, screen and design are calling for greater recognition of the key role played by Britain's creative industries.


    Today it seems that the key recommendation from Digital Britain is a minimum 2Mbps for all households in the UK. I believe that as a nation we need to push for much higher specs - the internet is still a young technology and being right at the forefront just has to be sensible for our economy. At the moment we are lagging far behind... for example, in the US almost all ISPs offer unlimited downloads and much higher speeds. Every technology has an adoption curve, with late adopters hanging on 'til the very last minute before they grasp the advantages... as long as the infrastructure is in place and as good as possible there will be huge paybacks.

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  • 5. At 3:11pm on 16 Jun 2009, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Dr Bee, I believe the issue regarding getting the UK to the forefront of internet speed and take-up is that we have to put in new infrastructure, as the existing copper wire system is the throttle point at the moment. The reason that other countries have greater speeds is that back in the seventies, eighties and nineties, there was a big shift for services such as telephone and TV to go to cable-based systems, with large swathes of the cities now having dedicated connections direct to their properties. Here, we "chose" to go the Satellite route for TV expansion, meaning there was no need back then to put an updated infrastructure for telecomms into place. Hence us playing catch-up now. Until we have all towns and cities with either FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) or FTTP (Fibre to the Premises), then we will be limited to a speed of around 20Mb at best. Some work is happening now, but there is a problem. Who is going to pay for the estimated £15bn that it'll cost to upgrade everything?

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  • 6. At 3:19pm on 16 Jun 2009, Charlie wrote:



    Fearless 05

    "...Who is going to pay for the estimated 15bn that it'll cost to upgrade everything?"

    My guess would be the remaining two people in the UK who'll have jobs.

    With the aid of "a little" quantitative easing, of course..."

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  • 7. At 3:36pm on 16 Jun 2009, U12196018 wrote:

    I thiught Steve Ryder was working for ITV now.

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  • 8. At 3:36pm on 16 Jun 2009, vainly_here wrote:

    Fearless, you can listen to Radio 4 without recourse to a broadband connection. If the air transmissions are ever stopped, you can listen to Radio 4 quite comfortably with 0.5 Mb. So why would anyone want more?

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  • 9. At 3:43pm on 16 Jun 2009, Charlie wrote:


    Vyle 08

    I can tell you, one can listen quite comfortably to R4 over a dial-up connection.

    I frequently do.

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  • 10. At 3:55pm on 16 Jun 2009, David_McNickle wrote:

    Look into my eyes, look into my eyes...

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  • 11. At 4:12pm on 16 Jun 2009, vainly_here wrote:

    Charlie (9) Isn't that rather expensive?

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  • 12. At 4:13pm on 16 Jun 2009, vainly_here wrote:

    DM (10) At the moment I'm looking FOR your eyes; where are they?

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  • 13. At 4:15pm on 16 Jun 2009, David_McNickle wrote:

    TIH 7, Is he related to Sam Ryder?

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  • 14. At 4:16pm on 16 Jun 2009, David_McNickle wrote:

    VH 12, Look behind my glasses, look behind my glasses...

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  • 15. At 4:25pm on 16 Jun 2009, tug wrote:

    The BBC to stop broadcasting on FM and AM.

    Section 39 of the executive summary:

    "The Government accepts that analysis and proposes, with the industry, the supply chain and consumers the process of Digital Upgrade so that all our national broadcast radio stations are DAB-only from the end of 2015. To that end, the Government is looking to the BBC to extend national DAB coverage so that it is at least comparable to FM radio coverage; and to the supply chain to deliver a range of DAB radios at the key sub-£20 price point that makes swap-out economic. The Government will also work with the automotive industry, and with the Commission and other key member states in Europe (one of whom has already indicated its intention to prohibit analogue-only radios in vehicles from 2013) on the five point plan set out in this Digital Britain Report to enable the majority of the vehicle parc to be converted to digital before 2015 and with low-cost converters for the remainder."

    I have a distinct feeling that this will cause ructions!

    (what's the vehicle parc, by the way?)

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  • 16. At 4:35pm on 16 Jun 2009, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Vyle (8); Whilst it is feasible to listen to R4 on a "slow" connection, there's a lot of other things that need a higher speed connection.....

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  • 17. At 4:38pm on 16 Jun 2009, Dr Bee wrote:

    FF @5 - Yes I take your point, and clearly it is something that would require a substantial investment - I suppose from the way that I see things moving though it is a necessary investment if we expect our economy to be able to compete in the coming years. I seem to remember there have been other causes that cost substantially more that were also deemed to be necessary and received the money needed to survive.

    As you point out - time is of the essence - we are already behind thanks to making the wrong decisions in the past - if we don't get up to speed now then we can expect to be relegated again.

    As to who will pay?! The same old question... It is my view that as a nation we need to face up to the costs of investment for future success. But of course our political system favours short term decisions based on self interest. It would be nice to see the national press having a proper debate on the costs / benefits of taxes rather than the unfortunate situation where the main political parties don't seem to dare to say what needs to be said.

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  • 18. At 4:44pm on 16 Jun 2009, T8-eh-T8 wrote:

    Maybe projects like this public sector owned initiative might provide the way forward:

    http://www.digitalregion.co.uk/profile.html

    (although not directly involved I do work for one of the private companies contracted for the infrastructure development, so am happy to answer any queries on this blog)

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  • 19. At 4:51pm on 16 Jun 2009, tug wrote:

    Dr_Bee @17 - According to section 30 of the Executive summary you will pay £6 a year for every fixed copper telephone line you have. This will subsidise the rolling out of Next Generation broadband to the third of the country which would not otherwise be upgraded.

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  • 20. At 4:56pm on 16 Jun 2009, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Dr Bee (17) I agree with what you're saying. This is something that does need addressing, and soon, so that we don't find ourselves as the slow-coaches in Europe. I'm not sure that you can say we made the wrong decisions, just different decisions. After all, who would've expected the internet to be such an essential part of life 25 years ago!

    You're right about certain projects being politically "high profile" so they get the funding first; Crossrail springs to mind. Instead of something that is London centric, imagine if that funding had been spent on the backbone of our telecomms infrastructure!

    I also agree with you about who should pay. This is something that affects the country as a whole, so it should be something that the country pays for.

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  • 21. At 4:56pm on 16 Jun 2009, David_McNickle wrote:

    Poor old C_G can't listen to anything because he uses Betamax.....or sumfink.

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  • 22. At 5:05pm on 16 Jun 2009, T8-eh-T8 wrote:

    My message was moderated, which I thought might happen.

    It had a link to a project to build high yield broadband infrastructure in the South Yorks area, owned and financed by the public sector, aiming to sell on capacity to the commercial world, which is then provided to the door for private use.

    Effectively it rivals the current BT infrastructure, except it's owned/operated by the public sector. It offers bandwidth of 25Mb or above, and follows other overseas schemes in being designed to promote e-commerce and position the region as a growth area for digital business.

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  • 23. At 5:06pm on 16 Jun 2009, KnoweTall wrote:

    Although Lord Carters Digital Britain Report calls for all households to have access to 2Mb/sec internet connection from 2012, the very people who an enhanced digital society is aimed at benefitting are either simply not interested or they believe that they cant afford it. At least thats what a recently published Ofcom MORI report would indicate.

    The report states that 42 percent of adults without the internet at their homes said that their main reason for not having it was due to lack of interest or need. This group tended to be older and retired, with 61 percent of them never having used a computer; 30 percent cited cost and/or lack of skills as their reason for not accessing the internet at home

    But a startling 43 percent of adults who currently do not have access to the internet at home say they would choose to remain unconnected even if they were given free PC and broadband connection. In 2008, 35 percent of UK households did not have broadband access.

    Of course, while they might not see any good reason to have the internet in their homes, many of those who are currently voluntarily broadband-free might be persuaded if approached from the right angle for instance access to multi-channel TV entertainment at a cost that competes with other paid-for services such as Sky.

    For all that Gordon Brown says that a digital nation is essential to our financial recovery, and critical to us being able to assume our apparently rightful place as a global economic powerhouse, such talk is cheap and apparently just about all that we can afford. There seems to be very little government funding available for this digital investment. The Prime Minister said recently that The private sector is rightly leading the way and investing significant sums. But there is also a role for targeted, strategic action by government. We can create the right framework, for example, for the release of wireless spectrum - a national asset - while also liberalising its uses and extending mobile broadband coverage. One might presume that the wireless frequencies so released will be auctioned to the best bidders - governments have a history of selling off the family silver. Might one also presume that the money thus raised would be used to provide connectivity and the appropriate kit to the currently unconnected?

    Whilst public investment in an enhanced broadband infrastructure is without doubt necessary in order to bridge the digital divide, we must first address the socio-economic divide that it mirrors. 74 percent of households in the South East have internet access, whilst the north East has just 54 percent of homes online. That is, frankly, a deplorable situation that this government and its predecessors should be thoroughly ashamed of. The Prime Minister recognises the problems of a two tier Britain, but merely making internet connectivity available to the technologically disenfranchised isnt the answer.

    It should be noted that 93 percent of adults under 70 years of age with a degree or equivalent qualification are most likely to have access to the Internet in their home, but only 56 percent of people with no formal qualifications are likely to have domestic Internet connection. Such figures are the symptoms of a problem, the facing and fixing of which has defeated many governments before this one, and will challenge many that follow it. Education in both its broadest and narrow sense together with substantial investment in the basic infrastructure, along with tangible support for smaller enterprises are the keys that will liberate the disenfranchised and such investment can only come from central government but not right now, or so it seems.

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  • 24. At 5:07pm on 16 Jun 2009, darkdesign wrote:

    A 50p levy on a landline will certainly end up charging some people who will never be able to afford, or desire, a 2mb connection.

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  • 25. At 5:23pm on 16 Jun 2009, darkdesign wrote:

    'Other taxation' . Did Sir Mike just call the licence fee a tax? Good for him. ;)

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  • 26. At 5:34pm on 16 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    DMcN @ 21, I am listening to PM being played on a Sony transistor radio.

    What is this Betamix foodprocessor of which you witter, and why does it receive radio broadcasts?

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  • 27. At 5:41pm on 16 Jun 2009, anonymous2009 wrote:

    It's ridiculous to suggest switching to DAB as a replacement for FM, given the millions of mobile phones, MP3 players and other small portable radios, which allow walkers to enjoy radio.

    Sorry, but DAB is just awful by comparison (the audio quality, even at 128kbps), doesn't have great coverage (hence this report indicating the need to push it up). I have several radios dotted around, only one DAB. Some may suggest Freeview/FreeSat but for those I would need a TV licence as well, so not just buying new boxes/radios/being unable to use my mobile phones for FM, but 140 quid a year on top for a darn licence, when compared with FM for the cost of the electricity!

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  • 28. At 5:47pm on 16 Jun 2009, anonymous2009 wrote:

    As for higher speeds, and comparisons with elsewhere - big question is what the heck they use the extra bandwidth for?

    Apart from online video chat (eg adult services!) few *require* very high speeds.

    I laugh each time I hear people wanting 100 Mbps because the data transfer is always limited to the slowest point...

    Network congestion is one aspect, the Europe/US links another (incidentally, those in N America don't pay a penny towards cost of running the international links).

    Sure you could fill 25 or 50 or 100 Mbps if you were doing file sharing, with dozens of connections, but average Joe using just e-mail or even listening to internet radio will get nowhere close!

    Most servers have to share 1 or 2x 100 Mbps ports with all users, so no single user is likely to get even 20 Mbps dedicated to them.

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  • 29. At 5:48pm on 16 Jun 2009, Paul Webster wrote:

    in In Section 3b para 13 Figure 6 .... how does "Organic Growth" outpace "Drive to Digital" or am I misinterpreting it?

    How local is "ultra-local"?

    The car radio plan looks weak - too late to insist that new radios have digital radio.
    Millions will be left with no national radio.
    Adding 30 million in car DAB (etc) radios in such a small time sounds unlikely.

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  • 30. At 5:50pm on 16 Jun 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

    Great. So landline users are to pay 50p per month for this new broadband idea of the government's.

    Landline users, like the older members of the population, poorer people who can't afford mobiles, and anyone with a disability who uses their phone to stay in touch with friends, family and services.

    As if the charges weren't high enough already...

    Squeeze the poor, the old and those with disabilities. Great idea.

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  • 31. At 5:53pm on 16 Jun 2009, Charmbrights wrote:

    I live ONLY 20 miles from the capital of Wales and I am considered to have broadband because my local exchange is equipped for it.

    Unfortunately I do not ACTUALLY have it because I am "too far from the exchange" according to BT. I am less than three miles as the crow flies from the exchange and I am not "in the wilds"; there is a 30mph limit almost all the way.

    Now my TV service is to be shut off in six months time unless I buy a new TV set (according to the approved retailer) and there is (according to BT) "no prospect of improvement in the phone lines in the foreseeable future.

    Please, what is someone under 75, living on a pension, with just enough work pension not to get any benefits supposed to do? No TV, either by aerial or by broadband, and now a forecast of no radio either.

    Perhaps the intention is that I should be so bored that I die soon and save the Government money?

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  • 32. At 5:54pm on 16 Jun 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

    Oh, and I can't get real player, either, so bang goes my radio listening from 2012 except when in the same room as the telly. Which will have to be HD and all that.

    Better start saving now. Let's see. I don't buy clothes, I don't take holidays, I hardly ever eat meat...

    I know! I could stop having a broadband connection! That would save quite a bit.

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  • 33. At 5:56pm on 16 Jun 2009, anonymous2009 wrote:

    Finally, what a crying shame your (BBC) blog system insists on counting the number of people clicking links...

    For PDFs it would be so much better if you could leave them "untouched" so I could right-click and saved direct to my HD via the "Save to Download Folder" option in my browser.

    (I have alternative software for viewing them, and don't use the browser for PDFs.)

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  • 34. At 5:57pm on 16 Jun 2009, eighty-eight wrote:

    If the Government wants to fund better internet access, why can't it just do this through existing taxes? Why does it have to do it through levies on telephone lines and 3.5% increases to the BBC tax?

    Is this something to do with the UK's unwritten constitution, and therefore a secret that I'm not allowed to know about?

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  • 35. At 6:01pm on 16 Jun 2009, T8-eh-T8 wrote:

    Lets use the money earmarked for the silly ID card scheme to fund better broadband infrastructure.

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  • 36. At 6:11pm on 16 Jun 2009, SonofSuburbia wrote:

    I was horrified at this stupid idea of levying a 50p a month surcharge on landlines. I thought the whole idea of privatisation, an idea as enthusiastically supported by this supine Labour government and the Tory toffs, was that private industry was great. Really great private industry can do everything better. So why can't they build the system themselves? Why do I have to subsidise corporations who have been doling out dividends and bonuses like big dollops of cream and then come whining to the tax payer that they can't afford to do what they are supposed to do?

    If we have to pay a charge to build their network then we, the natoion, should own it. I pay for my own broadband, if matey in the Dales (or wherever) wants broadband then they can pay for it to.

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  • 37. At 6:13pm on 16 Jun 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

    Easy peasy, Charmbrights, just sell up and move! There, that's sorted out. On yer removal van.

    [Thumps table in frustration at all this idiocy]

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  • 38. At 6:13pm on 16 Jun 2009, Psycho B Delic wrote:

    #29 What would they use it for?

    Why have colour TV when black and white will do? Why have, to paraphrase a Honda ad, lightbulbs when candles have worked well for millenia?

    I regularly use the BBC iplayer - in HD to watch those programs I have missed or wish to view again. I also use the other channel's versions. I download (legal) software - and this is increasingly going to be the standard method of distribution. I work from home using quite huge data files that without broadband I couldn't do.

    The Digital highway in this global age is an essential means of communications and, although I hate to say it, the French have it right when they say that broadband access is a human right.

    If you don't need to use it, the choice is yours. But every citizen in this modern age should have the right to a decent broadband connection - no matter where they live.

    This is the sort of infrastructure project governments should embark on - because it is not profitable for the private sector to do it - and it is about service to the community as a whole - dirty words nowadays I know. Like post offices. We talk about them losing money when we should talk about the cost of providing a universal service. The Police service loses us money. The NHS loses us money. No they don't: they are public services that cost us money. It is not the same thing and I would include universal broadband in this category.

    oops rant developing - sorry :O)

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  • 39. At 6:14pm on 16 Jun 2009, RobertIain wrote:

    According to Gordon Brown,

    "a fast internet connection is now seen by most of the public as an essential service, as indispensable as electricity, gas and water. "

    Interesting. Thanks to spells of ill health, I currently live entirely on incapacity benefit, and rapidly vanishing savings. This means I get no help paying for water, electricity, or gas. I'm not aware of any internet access that works without electricity...

    It would appear that there's no realistic chance of help to people in my position for internet access either - interesting world New Labour have, where 'indispensable' services are only available for those with the money to pay... can someone explain what 'indispensable' actually means, as far as I can tell in the modern political lexicon it means 'if you can't pay for it, you don't deserve to be living anyway'.

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  • 40. At 6:14pm on 16 Jun 2009, vanvon wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 41. At 6:43pm on 16 Jun 2009, T8-eh-T8 wrote:

    According to this site:

    http://www.poverty.org.uk/summary/key%20facts.shtml

    The government's short term child poverty target was to reduce the number of children in low-income households by a quarter by 2004/05 compared with 1998/99. This implied a maximum of 3.3 million children living in low-income households by 2004/05. Given that the actual number in 2006/07 was 3.9 million, the government is still 0.6 million above its 2004/05 target.

    I think that the conclusions are obvious.

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  • 42. At 7:16pm on 16 Jun 2009, T8-eh-T8 wrote:

    Not to mention that this government raised a windfall for itself of £22b when it auctioned off the 3G licences.

    Far more than expected or forecast.

    Are we to believe that the same crowd who chose not to re-invest this telecoms revenue are now taxing us, the public, in order to pay for this lack of vision or understanding? I cannot name one successful IT/Comms scheme that this government has managed to complete. I think of plenty that they have displayed a breathtaking ineptitude and largesse with.

    No Trident.

    No ID Card Scheme.

    No waging wars on innocent people.

    Tackle poverty at home.

    Stop wasting our money and our time with schemes that you do not understand or cannot explain/manage adequately.

    In fact, why are you still here?

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  • 43. At 8:38pm on 16 Jun 2009, chiltern2000 wrote:

    Digital radio? Don't make me laugh. I try to listen every week in Henley-on-Thames, London and Cambridge (and no, I am not an MP, I pay extra tax because of the benefit in kind for the pleasure of my work) and in each location digital radio only works intermittently in very specific rooms (usually next to a window) - and the only channels one can receive are BBC, occasionally... Digital radio is the biggest con of the early 21st century and why is so much of the licence fee directed to empire expansion by the BBC? Thank goodness for FM and why cannot the BBC concentrate on core broadcasting rather than attempting global domination?

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  • 44. At 8:51pm on 16 Jun 2009, MarkyRainbow wrote:

    This is the first time I've ever left a comment on the pm blog, but this is an issue I feel more strongly about than any other I can remember.

    I caught only part of the programme - have I misunderstood? I can't believe what I thought I'd heard - I.e. that ALL existing non digital radios will cease to work in 2012?! If so, this is total craziness when we are being encouraged to re-use plastic bags and whatever... the result: a mega-mountain of literally billions of unusable radios large and small/hi fi systems all off to landfill? In my case, I must have maybe a dozen radios dotted around the house [all tuned in to radio 4 fm!] Most of those have been working happily for decades ... now all of them are to be defunct, and to be replaced by expensive digital replacements? In this era of green sensibilities it seems to me to be especially irrational.

    Even my car radio will not be immune... indeed, this is effectively like saying all cars that still use petrol will no longer be drivable in 2012, and have no future except in the scrap yard.

    Is more choice the argument? More choice does not always mean better quality; anyone who has spent a night in an American hotel with only a hundred TV channels for company can vouch for that. By all means, have digital radio for those who want it - despite its tinniness to my ears - but what can possibly justify this short time scale for phasing out what is a perfectly good existing technology which has served, and still serves, millions and millions of people rich and poor. If a new technology is to replace an old one, still beloved by the majority of the population, then it should be done by market forces over decades, not a one size fits all dictatorship.

    Does anyone else feel that we the public MUST be listened to heard on this issue - or am I amongst a tiny minority, and the majority are quite happy to throw away their perfectly functioning radios once digi-D-day arrives??

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  • 45. At 8:57pm on 16 Jun 2009, Charlie wrote:

    c2000

    Couldn't agree with you more!

    Add to your comments appalling mobile 'phone signals in and around the Nettlebed area and, you've said it all...

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  • 46. At 9:48pm on 16 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    T8-eh-T8 @ 35:

    "Lets use the money earmarked for the silly ID card scheme to fund better broadband infrastructure."

    Very good thought; I wholeheartedly support it.

    Or let's ditch the idiotic ID scheme regardless of how we then spend the money earmarked for it.

    A few priorities changed would do no harm, I feel.

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  • 47. At 04:53am on 17 Jun 2009, epona4jess wrote:

    I am an expat American and have lived in the U.K. for the last 14 years. My husband's family were and are Radio 4 listeners. We have it on whenever we are home. I rely on the BBC for my daily news, both at home when I travel.

    I go all over the world for my job, and there is nothing like the BBC anywhere. I sing its praises to everyone, especially in America. Many of the people I know listen to the BBC there, or watch its programs. They felt particularly beseiged during the Bush administration, when the American journalist establishment seemed to have abandoned its own standards. The internet driven demise of the newspapers and the dumbing down of TV news makes the BBC's journalists and its standards more necessary than they ever were. Its never been more important to have an informed citizenry.

    Do not take away a penny of its lisence fee. It is a unique institution and even if there were no entertainment broadcast at all, just news, I would still cheerfully pay the £142.50 bill I am looking at right now, and then some.

    Sincerely,

    --Debra Logan

    PS You do need to stop giving air time to grey-squirrel-hating nutters though.

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  • 48. At 08:29am on 17 Jun 2009, numsadog wrote:

    So, analogue transmissions are due to end in 2015.
    Along with all the perfectly good CRT computer monitors and TV`s (scrapped because people want flat screen ones) we are now going to see millions of redundant am/fm radios ending up in land fills.
    A high proportion of them will contain cadnium, lead, arsenic and other toxic substances.
    Not very green is it!

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  • 49. At 08:50am on 17 Jun 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

    Markyrainbow and madsadog make very important points about the throwing away of perfectly good radios and the subsequent toxic FM radio mountain.

    I'm also with Chris the Fish, except that they'd never use the ID card money in such a sensible way; they'd say it's comparing apples with pears.

    And I'm with Debra Logan except for the grey squirrel bit. I know what you're up to, Debra. You feel empathy because they, too, are ex-pat Americans.

    Bloomin immigrant squirrels, coming over here, eating all our nuts, mating with our red squirrel females....*









    * Joke. Just in case anyone thought I was serious.

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  • 50. At 10:11am on 17 Jun 2009, T8-eh-T8 wrote:

    Here's an uneducated and ill conceived thought.

    If all radio transmissions are going digital in the forthcoming years, does that free up the airwaves for local radio or even domestic use?

    Will pirate radio stations no longer be operating outside the law?

    Could we have community projects in broadcasting only on a larger scale?

    Does the same apply to analogue TV transmissions?

    As I say, I do not know the technology, but surely all this broadcasting frequency will not simply become redundant? After all analogue is truer quality than digital. Look what happens with signal interferance, with analogue it starts to go a bit fuzzy, with digital it pixelates into blocks and freezes.

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  • 51. At 10:24am on 17 Jun 2009, jonnie wrote:

    A bit more on Digital radio (DAB)

    http://www.digitalradiotech.co.uk/dab/fm_switch-off.htm

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  • 52. At 2:58pm on 17 Jun 2009, MarkyRainbow wrote:

    Thanks, jonnie [51] - that's a very useful link;
    this is a quote from that site:

    {{{ A lot of people are under the mis-conception that because analogue TV will be switched off in 2012 that also means that FM and AM radio will be switched off in 2012 as well. This is not correct, because as you will be able to read below, no date has been set for FM to be switched off by -- there hasn't even been a date set for AM to be switched off by. FM will eventually be switched off, but it almost certainly won't be before 2017, and it is more likely to be in around 2020.}}}

    However, that seems to underline one of the points I was making [44] - i.e. last night's news stated [I thought] that a decision HAS now been made to bring forward the analogue switch off date... and hence to create an alpine mountain range of obsolete toxic waste as well as put millions of people to totally unnecessary expense - and all for a technology that many argue is inferior to that currently available.

    I simply cannot understand why this whole issue has been given just a casual mention as an afterthought in news bulletins in the past 24 hours so swamped are they by the whole broadband line rental saga...

    replacing millions and millions of perfectly good radios will cost he country and individual very very much more than a one-off annual penalty on fixed line rental for the sake of better country wide broadband. Please can someone in BBC or a nice honest politician maybe [i.e. someone with much more influence] than little old me actually focus on this issue and try to see the wood for the trees for once?!

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  • 53. At 3:06pm on 17 Jun 2009, PhilWalmsley wrote:

    I think that the "Government" are thinking of new ways of which they can levy Tax upon the ordinary working man. Gives me a problem, personaly, the answer would be no. £0.50 on my phone bill, for them. Telephone Operators develope their own systems without Government help.

    Most telephone lines are made from copper. Copper has a maximum transmission rate of around 28MB per second. Hence broadband was born. If you cannot go upward, then you have to go outward.

    Ther are two main operators in land lines as far as I know. They are B.T. and Telewest. I could be bold as to ask the question. Who has shares in which Company. Are they M.P.s? and if so, then who is messing around in my backyard?

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  • 54. At 4:24pm on 17 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Y'know, if they are freeing up all the FM wavebands by not using them any more, I bet they plan to sell them.

    It occurs to me that the money they get from that ought to be used for improving broadband, perhaps.

    Or is that 'apples and pears" as well?

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  • 55. At 4:43pm on 17 Jun 2009, anonymous2009 wrote:

    Perhaps it'd be worth an online demand for an immediate block on closing down analogue radio on the Number 10 website ( http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/ )

    1) in harsh economic times, it puts a blight on retailers selling FM radios, tuners, car radios, and even a portion of mobile phones, because any with FM radio can be classed obsolete NOW. For example a high-end FM tuner can cost 750 pounds, and 300-400 pound for latest mobile phones - who pays compensation to shops for stock that cannot be sold?

    2) FM has been around for years, and valve sets for almost as long, and still going strong. Many radios could be in working order for another 20 years, and some can cost well over 100 pounds (FM/MW/Short Wave), yet these would largely become 'scrap' - what will happen to this mountain of radios, and millions of mobile phones? Recycling? Not environmentally friendly because these are not 'dead' or 'dangerous' but made obsolete by switching to digital alone!

    Many DAB sets have higher power consumption, 'eating' batteries or needing mains power, so a further "non-green" aspect.

    3) the Digital Britain report seems not to understand the benefit of RDS for drivers, allowing a radio to switch to a *local* traffic report. FM is far from 'dead' while DAB has so far shown poor quality audio, perhaps because the 'push' has been for quantity, not quality, and while people still have poor quality (warbling) on DAB at home, it's certainly not "CD quality" and has problems for mobile (car/van) use too.

    Ofcom itself said in 2007 that there was no equivalent to a cheap set-top box (for Freeview) that would allow the estimated 100-150 million existing radios to be switched to handle digital - that's a lot of devices to make obsolete, and with limited benefits (if you have FM you get time signals and can move room to room without different 'delay', a 'feature' of digital!)

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  • 56. At 6:30pm on 17 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    35 million non-DAB radios are estimated to be in use in this country, as well as 38 million car radios. None of these will be able to receive DAB signal.

    Who has paid whom for this windfall to the radio manufacturers?

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  • 57. At 9:25pm on 17 Jun 2009, anonymous2009 wrote:

    (sorry if junk was posted just now - my cat sat on keyboard)

    In response to msg 56 from Chris_Ghoti :-

    Just curious about where the 35 million non-DAB radio sets estimate came from.

    I personally have 5 (2 in midi systems, older one from 1989 is in the garage, FM working fine, and 3 in multiband portables), and then I have an MP3 player, and a pile of mobile phones (all selected _because_ they include FM, even the Alcatel costing 9 pounds!)

    I bet there are many households with several radios. How many UK households? 20 million? I think I'd go with 80 to 160 million non-DAB radios...

    Oh - just remembered another one - a 'ghetto blaster' sat on the floor behind the door, mainly used on Sundays for R Wales on FM (no DAB signals here at present), while my DAB set is usually on R4 or R5 (only BBC 'local' stations are all in England - Manchester, Liverpool and Stoke, each of them 30-50 miles away, but closer than Cardiff, which originates the bulk of material, and news appears to also be mostly regarding the southern coast cities and towns).

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  • 58. At 9:58pm on 17 Jun 2009, MarkyRainbow wrote:

    anonymous2009 [55] --- thank you...

    you put the argument much better than i was able to do, your argument is backed up with facts and knowledge... mine only by passion about a subject i did not know i felt passionate about until yesterday!! Yes, we DO need to set up that petition... you seem to be someone who could do that? please..... Please try...

    In today's Times - on the subject of the analogue swtich off - the verdict was: it's worth it, and the discarded obsolete radio equipment is unimportant because of the increased choice for the majority who want "choice" [That's my paraphrase, not a quote]

    This really is crazy to my mind... if listeners want "choice" [whatever meaningfulness that has in this contect] then it is there already - the choice to listen on the channels available on fm/am or the channels on digital...

    MY personal choice is still to have AM and FM which i can continue to listen to on my existing equipment (much of which is going strong after decades) and not to be forced to dump all of it in order to choose between MORE and more radio channels (at a possibly poorer quality) and thereby as a by product create an envornmental disaster of landfill---

    Is MY choice and YOUR choice of no importance, and all that matters is THEIR choice - as dictated by some report that has a biased remit??

    Please -anonymous2009 - set up that petition???!! And i hope there are many millions who sign it and that somehow we can stop this fascist-style forcing of us all to conform to "their" decision to switch off analogue national radio two years after >50% people are "listening" digitally...

    Ok, if that argument is valid: let's deport x/y/z ethnic/social group once more than 50% of us decide so?? let's switch off BBC once > 50% decide we don't want to pay the licence fee any more???

    Let's... and so on. This is not democracy; it's dictatorship on this issue. Minorities must be protected in a democaracy - unless in this one, you're a minority that wants to save FM from the crazy "switch off" target date defined by profit for government, radio-manufacturers and for whomever else could cash in on the bonanza.

    I wonder how the question would do in a properly-worded referendum once people had time to think about it...

    As for the difficulties for the visually impaired, that is a totally new ball-game; it is not enough to provide patronising trainers on the new technology.

    PLEASE let us keep FM and AM "national" radio as WELL as digital...

    We should not be forced to comform at our expense - just to push forward a technology which has failed to take off...


    ok --- if no Mp will take up the issue and a #10 petition is ignored because the arguments are lost in the pixellations and freeze-frames... how about some worthy national newspaper taking up the cause instead??

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  • 59. At 10:42pm on 17 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    anonymous2009 @57, "Just curious about where the 35 million non-DAB radio sets estimate came from. "

    It was the figure given by A Spokesman on the 6 O'Clock News after PM was over. This spokesman didn't seem to be in favour of the switch-off, as far as I could tell, and he may well have gone for the lowest reasonable figure so as not to be accused of exaggeration.

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  • 60. At 9:21pm on 18 Jun 2009, anonymous2009 wrote:

    @59 - thanks. I think I had had a glut of 'Digital Britain' by then, especially since the so-called 'top slicing' and the 6 quid levy were possibly being given higher importance, so switched off the news and had some food, while listening to kssj.com

    Strange that the Government can find billions for CrossRail and the Olympics, with those projects being in the (already overcrowded, with creaking infrastructure, limited power [for data centre requirements, according to a recent R4 show], needing hosepipe bans, as water is leaking and has a lot of people to supply)...

    ... however, a scheme to assist those across the whole of the UK will have a tax on existing users of phone lines (plenty of whom may never wish to use the enhanced facility anyway). Also, even taking that 6 quid a year for several years seems only to tot up to 1.2 bn (from ThinkBroadband.com) while FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) is estimated at 5 bn, and FTTH (fibre to the home) at FIVE TIMES that... yes, 25 bn.

    (rambling off FM radios now, as I've switched to the speed 'needed' aspect)

    I saw a note somewhere that the experimental FTTC setup has a fibre to a street phone cabinet (commonly green, there's one in the village where I live, about 400m from me, where copper to the exchange is estimated at 6000m) and each home gets 40 Mbps... that's (in my view) quite adequate, though some have a different view.

    I saw that the BBC news page 'BBC World: The need for speed' says about speeds being 'needed'... Interestingly, the maximum speed they show is actually 25 Mbps, and the majority of common uses shown need less than 2.5 Mbps (you don't need updates to a game every day, but you might use YouTube / online games / online shopping etc, near daily)

    Well, sure, if two or three happen to want to do a very heavy download, concurrently, then 40 Mbps won't support every activity at these speeds, but it does look as if there's still adequate benefit from FTTC without needing to get fibre to every property, at least not initially

    There may eventually be some suitable fibre MUX to allow the fibre at the cabinet to then support hundreds of fibres to individual homes - though the work involved to install is considerable - think how many miles of underground and overhead cables there are at present and you can see the problem!

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  • 61. At 9:35pm on 18 Jun 2009, anonymous2009 wrote:

    MarkyRainbow @58

    I am considering wording a couple of petitions, however one niggle is that of losing my anonymity if I do so, and there are other things I plan to petition about, though I still have work to do on a website (highlighting a number of specific petitions, some which have now expired, but are of interest, in my view) and will use that website to (hopefully) draw attention to various matters, though not, of course, via the BBC (well, not directly - with luck it will get mentioned on FiveLive and R Wales, if not R4!)

    I will certainly give it more thought, and perhaps encourage a friend (a Hi-Fi dealer) to submit the petition, which I'll support, of course, but not within the first 50.

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  • 62. At 12:33pm on 19 Jun 2009, MarkyRainbow wrote:

    anonymous2009 @ 61

    Thank you.

    I hope your friend in the Hi-fi trade thinks it worth his/her while to submit a petition to save FM/AM national radio.

    I believe it would have huge popular support especially if a national newspaper were to back it. Unless it is simply a cynical government money-making exercise, I really can see no logical objection o having both existing technologies continuing to run side by side indefinitely - until if and when market forces declare the older format obsolete.: as for instance with 78s/super-8/beta-max. However, some older formats [e.g. radio/video cassette-tape; vinyl. Cds even good old fashioned physical film] still survive in minority form many years after their technology has been superseded.

    It ought to remain the consumers and manufactures choice not the result of a government sleight of hand, in order to push forward a new technology that has otherwise FAILED to capture mass appeal.

    In addition to a petition, I also hope the BBC/IPM?! is prepared to continue to debate the subject [this narrow one of analogue radio switch off] and to continue to highlight the pros and cons in a fair and independent manner.

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  • 63. At 12:41pm on 19 Jun 2009, mittfh wrote:

    Courtesy of the PM blog's very own Stainless Steel Cat:

    RT: @SteelCat: For all the good it'll do, please oppose the analogue radio spectrum switch-off: http://bit.ly/LCv9u

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  • 64. At 9:33pm on 19 Jun 2009, MarkyRainbow wrote:

    please oppose the analogue radio spectrum switch-off!!
    ==============

    Many thanks to mittfh/anonymous2009 and STAINLESS STEEL CAT [!!] and MH...

    I've already got a lot of friends and contacts interested, and hopefully they will pass on the word and the petition link to more and more people, and with luck soon the current 70 signatures will have several 0s added to the right of that figure and then hopefully someone will actually take note.

    With many thanks to MH, the petition creator, I quote his succinct words :-

    {{{The proposed analog radio switch off disadvantages everyone. It forces you to scrap all your existing radios - and buy DAB sets instead. Car radios, kitchen radios, bedside radios, stereo tuners, all become scrap. And the liberated bandwidth is used for extra services no-one wants - witness the DAB station failures - polluted with advertising, and never again the chance to hear a foreign station by accident. This is not a future I want.}}}

    Nor do I ---

    So I'll repaste the link below - and let's be optimistic... Please oppose the analogue radio spectrum switch-off:

    http://bit.ly/LCv9u

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  • 65. At 1:21pm on 22 Jun 2009, anonymous2009 wrote:

    In fairness, there is mention of "ultra local" radio being put as a temporary measure on the 88-108 FM band, but this hardly compares with the content we expect from BBC and other existing stations, and they did finally mention DAB+ (which is NOT backward compatible with current DAB radio, so poor blighters who buy FM or current DAB kit will be blighted and need to buy yet more radios in the long run).

    I saw mention of 'scrolling text', listen again and revenue being features the broadcasters can get using digital.

    However, it's a mish-mash of what can be done using existing online and broadcast services, and some possible new bits, but quite unclear as it seems more like marketing speak to claim it is good.

    There are contradictory statements such as (DAB) "sold well" (para 137) where elsewhere there's known to be a shortage of listeners using digital services...

    Another comment says that listeners using digital are "happy" with it (obviously not been following lots of comments online complaining about poor quality from the BBC, because of low bitrates [only on DAB], gurgling sounds, and putting 'quantity' over 'quality' by pushing too many stations on, causing the rotten audio quality.


    There seems to be no thought for the existing listeners - the comment from the BBC in R4 'Feedback' was rather bland, along the lines of 'we'll go along with it' without any dissent, or any strong reasons why it would benefit the listeners.

    Experiments with video (Mayo show on FiveLive, and coming on The Material World) are not what RADIO is all about.

    Sure the studio can have a webcam, but Twitter, Facebook and so on as ways for getting contact pander to those under 30, and alienate those who don't have internet access, don't Want internet access, or if they do have access, don't use these services, and don't want to have to register with them just to get in touch with some BBC programme.

    It's getting daft these days, listening to a local station, when the 'DJ' is taking silly comments from Twitter, text messages, etc. I bet this will burn some of them out, or are they all 'technology junkies' in the BBC now?

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  • 66. At 1:26pm on 22 Jun 2009, anonymous2009 wrote:

    Incidentally, there's no need for 'shorthand' web links - the Downing Street petition is at

    http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/AM-FM-Radio/

    that's surely short enough (except for Twitter users!)

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  • 67. At 12:54pm on 23 Jun 2009, MarkyRainbow wrote:


    Thanks again anonymous2009 for your ongoing intelligent informative comments. I found your most recent [65] very interesting - and thanks for pointing out the full link to the petition: I'm happy to see the number of signatures has [as of this morning] passed the 500 mark.

    I'm personally very much closer to the over-60s group rather than to the under-30s. Nevertheless, I have been doing my very best to use my MySpace page to encourage people to think about the argument, and to drum up support for the petition - in the hope that eventually sheer numbers might help have some influence since, so far, reasoned argument seems not to be getting a fair hearing!

    We really could do with some high profile spokesperson to take up the cause .... is there not anyone with good access to the media/political world who cares enough to speak up for the rest of us? I suspect I am not alone in wanting to continue to listen to the Today programme while showering in the bathroom - or to PM while chopping the evening carrots [albeit we now know they're better to be cooked whole; I'd never have known that factoid had it not been for my little NON-digital kitchen radio...]

    Prince Charles.... Joanna Lumley --- are you in need of a new cause to take up?!!

    Michael Martin, Ann Widdecombe --- Margaret Beckett ?? :-)

    http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/AM-FM-Radio/

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  • 68. At 10:10pm on 25 Jun 2009, MarkyRainbow wrote:

    I'm so delighted the petition seems to be taking off in a big way - fewer than 500 signatures two days ago - now more than double that... let us hope someone in govt and or BBC is listening/watching!!

    I'm personally still plugging away to drum up signatures in my own small way by email/myspace - hope anyone reading this will do the same if they care enough to be able still to listen on their Non-Dab radio to the Archers R4/sounds 60s on R2;Proms on radio 3 --- or even Fern & Reggie every Sunday on R1?!

    PLEASE sign...

    PLEASE send the link to your friends...!!

    Thanks!!

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