Sunday, November 19, 2006

DAB Digital Radio - Part of 1984 Cospiracy?

The more I learn about digital radio, the less I think it's a good idea.
In fact, I am beginning to question the motives for it being foisted upon us.
The first thing you notice about it is it's total inability to tell you the time accurately.
What is the point of having the Greenwich Time Signal or the Westminster Bongs broadcast when the only certain thing we know about these is that if you hear them on digital radio it's not the correct time. And there seems to be no information available as to the time lag on the particular device you are listening on.
It's possible to hear the same moment on radio at least three times if you have analogue radio, digital radio and cable TV on in the house all at the same time . I guess that if you also have computer streaming and satellite TV you could get a couple more versions of what time is now!
The second difficulty is environmental. It goes against the grain to introduce a system which will cause several, if not tens of times the amount of energy to be consumed in listening to the radio than we previously needed. I thought we were making progress with the introduction of clockwork and solar radio, but even in this area the digital version is a dozen times more inefficient.
Furthermore there are issues concerning the disposal of analogue sets as they become useless as the Big Switch-Off approaches. Tons of valuable metals and crystals will be thrown into landfills or incinerators unless a monumental reclamation programme is set in train.
But my main beef is the limitations on access to radio stations imposed by the digital medium. The reception of stations is even more dependent on local relaying of stations than even FM was. The limited approach by even the BBC to music broadcasting in the UK means I often choose to listen to FiP - the Paris based French music station which broadcasts continuous programmes of very eclectic choices of styles and eras all day, every day, with hardly any intrusive talk {a couple of news updates twice and hour is about all you get - usually not even announcements about the record you just heard}. It's brilliant. Does digital radio mean an end to casual listening to foreign station and unavailability of FiP in Britain unless you can sit with your computer all day. I fear so.
Now we come to motive. And here I enter the realms of parnoid imagination. It could be thought that the government chooses to cut us off from the world of radio by imposing a medium which only brings us the stations which the local control machinery passes fit for our consumption. Hopefully there will be opprortunity for local pirate radio to develop but this will not guarantee quality. Rather it will let in the loonies with this or that axe to grind. Political, religious groups etc and a variety of fans and geeks with little or no discrimination beyond their own particular bee-in-the-bonnet or chosen interest. I'm not really knocking such people but I'd rather have access to quality professional product from around the world. It may be that the Web contiues to give us this but with the Big Brother Creep we seem to be experiencing at present I wouldn't discount the development of serious censorship of the Internet by the Government, Big Biz and so on happening quite soon and this will be a disaster.
If you have views - corcordant or contrary - I'd be keen to hear your angle on this one, but please cite any eveidence you can especially if speaking in favour of digital radio. I remain open minded and willing to be convinced but it will take some doing!

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