future of radio is digital
by Jenny Abramsky, Director, BBC Radio & Music, to the NAB Conference
available in full
Radio must go digital to avoid long term decline
First BBC digital radio figures will be "modest"
BBC share will fall as choice and competition increase through digital
DAB digital radio vital in driving transition to digital
future of radio as a medium is at stake unless it goes digital,
claims Jenny Abramsky, Director of BBC Radio & Music, in a speech
to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in London today
(Monday 20 October).
is a vibrant cultural force to be celebrated," she says.
we can't take this for granted in a future where the next generation
of radio listeners faces more choices than ever before about their
media and how they consume it.
radio in Europe flourishes today we cannot complacently assume it
continues: "I believe radio must go digital if it is not to
go into a long term decline.
radio were the only medium not to go digital it would soon become
obsolete for future generations."
Abramsky also predicts that the BBC's first listening figures for
its new digital radio networks, published by RAJAR on Thursday (23
October), will be "modest", stressing "these are
very early days".
also acknowledges that it is important not just to launch new services
but to develop them post-launch.
stations need time to find their voices, to grow their production
and presentation talent, to build - and build an understanding of
- their audiences.
BBC will provide an environment for these stations to do just that
by investing for the long term and ensuring that they do not wilt,
neglected in the shadow of the five established networks."
adds that whatever the audience figures may be, they will be many
times greater than those envisaged when the digital stations were
first proposed within the BBC.
I was prepared for audiences of a few thousand in the early years.
phenomenal growth of listening through the internet and digital
television as well as the recent rapid rise in sales of DAB digital
radio sets means that we will surpass my own original expectations
by a huge margin."
about the increased choice offered by digital radio - from both
the BBC and the commercial sector - Jenny Abramsky welcomes the
increased choice which is "fantastic news" for the radio
industry, radio professionals, advertisers and listeners.
goes on to explain, however, that increased choice means increased
competition which will inevitably lead to a decline in share of
listening for BBC Radio.
don't expect that the BBC will start the next decade as it started
this one - with over half of all radio listening to its stations.
expect that our share of listening will fall, but increased choice
is the right strategy because we know that is right for audiences
- it is what sells sets and is what will take radio digital."
also stresses that the BBC recognises it should take the lead in
driving the adoption of digital radio by the audience, the market
and the industry.
Abramsky's speech highlights her belief in the vital importance
of DAB digital radio in delivering the transition to digital.
a billion hours a week of radio listening take place in the UK and
the vast majority of these take place in the bedroom, bathroom,
kitchen, car and on the move.
internet and digital television have taken radio listening on to
new devices and into new parts of the home and are growing radio
listening in the UK.
the only technology that will take those billion hours of listening
digital is DAB digital radio.
is a robust technology that enables affordable, high volume production
and that can be embedded into a range of devices.
radio as we know it - cheap, portable, reliable - only better."
Abramsky also stresses the BBC's commitment to marketing its digital
radio portfolio, claiming the BBC's investment in digital radio
content would be "squandered" without a complementary
investment in promotion.
BBC will run a major cross-media campaign promoting its digital
radio portfolio on-air and off-air through December.
hope that by the end of the year almost 350,000 sets will have been
sold," she says.
available in full
National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is an American trade
association that promotes and protects the interests of radio and
television broadcasters in Washington and around the world.
is the broadcaster's voice before Congress, federal agencies and
BBC has five digital-only radio networks, all launched in 2002:
1Xtra – the best in new black music
Five Live Sports Extra - the home of live sport with exclusive coverage
of live events
6 Music - the best of contemporary and classic rock and pop
BBC 7 - the best of BBC comedy, drama and books from the archive
the Asian Network - news and music from the British Asian scene.
BBC's whole family of speech and music networks is also available
on digital radio: Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 3, Radio 4, Radio Five
Live and the World Service (in English).
BBC local radio services are also available on DAB.
BBC is expanding its national digital radio transmitter network
to cover 85% of the UK population by mid-2004. Coverage currently
stands at 70%.
new transmitters were switched on in August and September 2003 bringing
around 2.4 million new people into BBC coverage.
radio can be received on a digital radio via DAB digital radio broadcasts,
and also through digital television (satellite, cable and Freeview)
and through the internet.
are currently 23 manufacturers producing digital radios for the
Europe recently announced it will launch a digital radio in 2004
- the first major Japanese manufacturer to come into the digital
radios are available as tuners (i.e. as part of a hi-fi), portables
and as car radios. Prices start at £99.00.
UK digital radio sales have reached 200,000 sets (GFK data).
radios are available from more than 3,000 retail outlets across
the UK (both large high street chains and small independent retailers)
and can also be bought on the internet.
new campaign for BBC Digital Radio portfolio (06.10.03)
new digital radio transmitters now on air (30.09.03)
BBC's digital services are now available on Freeview,
the new free-to-view digital terrestrial television service, as well
as on satellite and cable.
offers the BBC's eight television channels, interactive services
from BBCi, as well as 11 national BBC radio networks.