Juliette Garside has a good piece in the business pages of the Sunday Telegraph on the future of digital radio. She reckons DAB has reached is Freeview moment and the launch of Channel 4 Radio will determine whether it's set to succeed in the long term. The problem seems to be the expense of the licences. When they were awarded they were given in tandem with FM licences. If you took a DAB licence you were given a 12 months extension to your FM licence at the same time.
When Oneword Radio went out of business at the end of last year I tentatively looked at how much it would cost to set up a current affairs, talk based, DAB Radio station and the practicality of taking over the Oneword licence. The last bit might have been relatively straightforward - OFCOM were indeed optimistic and helpful. Yet the cost of it rendered the project strangled at birth. The licence cost around £1 million a year. Add on equipment and staff costs and it's easy to see why DAB Radio is a difficult commercial project. There's little prospect of recouping the cost through advertising. As the Telegraph piece makes clear, advertisers are just not keen on DAB.
The launch of Channel 4 Radio has now been delayed on two occasions, I believe. I hope they don't get cold feet. They have invested a lot in the project and it would be a great shame, particularly viewed through the prism of listener choice, it it foundered now.
POINT OF INFO: Juliette Garside asserts: "DAB is compatible with mobile phones and good for portable radio sets and - in theory -cars, although no carmakers install it yet." Not true. I have it in my car.