UK Radio Listening Data - Q1 2018

Here is the latest RAJAR radio listening figures published this morning

 Qtr-1 2017  %Qtr-4 2017  %Qtr-1 2018  %
AM/FM52.850.149.1
All Digital47.249.950.9
DAB33.836.336.8
DTV5.55.14.8
On Line8.08.59.3


 Well we've passed the UK.Gov target of starting the switch over once more than 50% of listening was via digital. Problem is the 50% number is for "All Digital",   DAB (real radio sets) for listening in homes & automotive at 36.8% has some way to go in both users & area coverage.

With automotive in particular most new cars are now fitted with DAB but millions with FM only are still on the roads. The DAB coverage in my normal travel area is pretty good, but last week I was travelling around the Peaks & Pennines & DAB coverage was poor (patchy) in comparison.

Per the forum thread back in March, the BBC have suggested to keep FM radio for the foreseeable future. They are not suggesting to keep FM forever but are saying at the moment its too early & to look at it again in the future. I have not seen any news from Ofcom or Gov comment/feedback on that proposal.

Its good to see On Line (web Radio) has a healthy growth - IMO thats probably where the future for high SQ home listening is.

Original Post

It may be said that I’m resistant to change, but it really concerns me whenever I read any posts about the possible cessation of FM broadcasts in the U.K.  The problem is that the NAT01 is without equal in audio performance in my system and it will be a sad day when I have to turn it off for good. 

Of course FM on 87.5 to 108 will be around for a long time yet, as it is enshrined by the UN Geneva convention... however what may happen is that the BBC may leave this broadcast band for others... and I guess that is what some may refer to as the ‘FM switch off’ but there is more to Radio than the BBC.

Also in east Suffolk away from the main A roads and key towns DAB becomes annoyingly patchy to swathes of nothing... although close to the coast when there is a ‘lift’ I can enjoy the Dutch multiplexes... they do seem to sound better than ours... also my new little car (last year) was FM only... no DAB option

Simon

I guess you're right Simon. It's really the loss of BBC Radio 3 FM that I would miss most, followed by Radio 4 FM and Radio 2 FM. Beyond that and the odd BBC local station I can't receive much else, but so long as I can receive Radio 3 FM, I don't need it.

No doubt the switch off of BBC channels on FM would severely affect the secondhand value of my NAT01 and Ron Smith Galaxie 17 aerial too.

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

Of course FM on 87.5 to 108 will be around for a long time yet, as it is enshrined by the UN Geneva convention... however what may happen is that the BBC may leave this broadcast band for others... and I guess that is what some may refer to as the ‘FM switch off’ but there is more to Radio than the BBC.

Hi Simon,  as I understand it,  some of the plan for the 88-108 FM band is to free it up for local licensed private broadcasters;  an FM station is easy & cheap to set up compared to DAB  (as demonstrated by the many unlicensed (pirate) broadcasters around our larger cities).  

Clive B:  Aside from the excellence & value of your NAT-01,  what would be your thoughts be on a condition of BBC no longer broadcasting on FM is that they set up a permanent R3 FLAC web radio service ???

 

Mike, Clive, indeed... FWIW i would not object to FM BBC R3 being transferred to a FLAC internet stream (as the FLAC BBC trial last year was exceptionally good) - but for me a precursor would be a significant increase in superfast access for rural locations... my current 3.8 Mbps feed (and many of my village neighbours are around 2 Mbps or less) which is not so unusual still around these parts  - albeit we have fibre to the premises apparently planned - just don't quite know when yet!!!! - slowly the infill is completing - and the harder spots are increasingly being passive optical network fibre  enabled as the new deployment tech has seriously reduced in costs (as opposed to FTTC superfast with green cabinets)

Simon,  FTTP seems a bit OTT in cost & time to get the area up to speed.  My village is all FTTC,  I'm only aprx 250m distance from the cab & I get 76mb/s.   A farmer friend who I believe is on the same cabinet around 2km, maybe more, distance & gets around 25mb/s via some dodgy looking overhead lines.     

No, Mike, I didn't try the FLAC stream last year as I seem to recall it required additional equipment which I didn't have to be plugged into the NDS to enable it. Hence, I am unable say if I'd be happy with that as a long term solution. It would have to be at least better than FM to persuade me. Currently I'd say a live broadcast on BBC Radio 3FM received through the NAT01 can sound more convincing than records on my LP12 or CDs through my NDS. I've discussed the point in the past with Simon where I've heard CDs played on Record Review on Radio 3 which have sounded better than the same CD streamed through my NDS. Crazy, but true.

 

Well I though so too - until I spoke to various people in the know recently regarding my part of the county - and where communities are in linear structures or distributed - FTTP using the new modular tech is cheaper or the same cost as FTTC and provide better performance .... BT technology and innovation is advancing all the time and the deployment costs are coming down. Also the fibre is now often suspended between overhead telephone line posts - as where I live - so there are not expensive fibre laying costs and the fibre enabled telephone pole (DP) has a black plastic splitter box where fibre feeds are suspended to or routed via underground ducts to the premises.... so at least there are some advantages in being late to the party - just want to know what time I can arrive at the party 

For the urban and suburban dwellers using twisted pair  - your new service will be GFast which will provide a huge uplift to current FTTC broadband speeds should you wish -

VDSL2 (latest gen FTTC) speeds vs distance

So if your neighbour is at 25mbps from a FTTC cabinet 2km away it won't be VDSL - not from that cabinet at least. Villages that are FTTC enabled tend to have several PCP cabinets to suit the twisted pair routing - so he might be being fed by a different cab - some of them are quite small now.. 

I fully understand your points Clive,  a friend has a NAT-01 & it realy is something else.   The thing that bothers me with FM radio is its not high definition as we know it.   Stereo FM broadcasts have a 19kHz pilot tone & this must be filtered out by the receiver,  the filtering point is normally set around the 12 to 15kHz region,  some do it better/sharper than others,  I have no idea what the NAT-01 looks like but I do know the infamous & glorious sounding Leak Troughline filter is around 10kHz.    Additionally broadcasts are normally limited to a lower frequency of 50Hz so it means you have an audio band of 50Hz to 12kHz  (maybe) 15kHz    

Tony2011 posted:

You've changed your tune(no pun intended), Mike.

https://forums.naimaudio.com/to...ly=41551092337923929 

I know Polar Bear is very fond of his Nat-01. I wonder he still is four years on?

???  not sure I follow your drift Tony ...... I like FM, always have, & would never say a bad word etc. FM can sound superb & BBC R3 is probably the best on the planet ITR.  My point is just saying that even with the superb sounding players like NAT-01 & the Troughline,  FM is not high definition as we know it today as it does not carry the full 20-20kHz audio band;   its along the same lines as the question I asked of Clive B,  how would he feel (how would we all feel) if when/before FM switch off that BBC start a FLAC web radio service (which would/could be the full 20-20 audio band & hopefully not compression limited. 

Eloise posted:

I wonder, as “kids” are happy with technology, can Aunty please switch off Radio 1 on FM and replace it with 6Music?  Am I being greedy asking?

Now that is a very good suggestion... it’s a crying shame that 6 music can only be delivered by lossy masking platforms... I would also settle for a FLAC stream.

Clive B posted:

Mike, what additional equipment was required to listen to the R3 FLAC trial during last year’s proms season? Or was this directly available through the Naim servers and streamers?

I used Minimstreamer and Minimserver running on a raspberry pi (but can run on any modest low power platform like many NAS) ... i then selected the stream a bit like a local UPnP server playlist from my Naim app, and my Naim streamer played it as a local UPnP stream.... it sounded wonderful.

 

 

Clive B posted:

Mike, what additional equipment was required to listen to the R3 FLAC trial during last year’s proms season? Or was this directly available through the Naim servers and streamers?

As per Simon says  ( I hear a tune coming on )     I used my Synology NAS,  I'm not sure what (if anything) can be done to make it more accessible such as a direct Naim (vTuner) feed.   Radio Paradise are showing that it can be done although at the moment its not possible on a URL type link such as all webradio use,  I get the feeling it will happen one day soon.

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:
Clive B posted:

Mike, what additional equipment was required to listen to the R3 FLAC trial during last year’s proms season? Or was this directly available through the Naim servers and streamers?

I used Minimstreamer and Minimserver running on a raspberry pi (but can run on any modest low power platform like many NAS) ... i then selected the stream a bit like a local UPnP server playlist from my Naim app, and my Naim streamer played it as a local UPnP stream.... it sounded wonderful.

 

 

I used Minimserver on a basic Synology NAS, reasonably simple to set up, and sounded excellent. 

More news, maybe a bit non-news, on FM switch off.

On release of the RAJAR data, Margot James, MoS for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, welcomed reaching the 50% digital target & confirmed the Government will work closely with all partners in UK radio – BBC, commercial radio, Arqiva (transmitters), car mnfrs & the various listener groups before committing to a timetable for analogue switch-off.

Per forum posts prior to the release of the RAJAR data, BBC's Bob Shennan proposed at the Vienna Radiodays Europe conference in March that the BBC opposes a forced switch-off of FM, arguing instead for a 'hybrid' (simultaneous FM+DAB broadcasts) & that until auto & some listening groups had moved further towards digital, it would be premature to switch off FM.

This has now been confirmed by James Purnell, BBC Director of Radio and Education. Interestingly James Purnell was previously at BBC in a senior position prior to taking up a career in politics with the Labour Party where amongst other appointments he was Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. So at least he has some appropriate experience in that he held the most senior government position in the department of state responsible for this matter. I guess its watch this space but don't hold yer breath.

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