UK Commercial Radio DAB MUX Winner – Good For Operator – Bad For Listeners

The UK’s 2nd national commercial radio DAB multiplex was recently awarded to “Sound Digital”, a consortium including the likes of Arqiva, Bauer Media and UTV Media. The result is that within a few months from now, we’ll have available new radio stations such as talkRADIO, Virgin Radio and Magic Mellow, while existing stations like Heat, Jazz FM and Kisstory may be broadcasting across the whole UK.

I suspect this new MUX (multiplax) will still be using DAB at the lowest possible cost for the operators. That means lowest possible bit rates Kbps. providing the lowest possible audio quality for listeners and using Mono instead of Stereo wherever they can get away with it.

So this is where the evolution of terrestrial broadcasting ends: an evolution which was to always – over the years – increase audio quality. e.g from MF/AM to VHF/FM, first in Mono and then in Stereo, then to provide Station-Labelling enabling car radio listeners to follow a programme by its label throughout the country.

But most of all it reverses the move to higher audio quality pioneered over the years by the Beeb, to one of quantity squeezed in. Never mind the quality – feel the quantity! Feel the number of channels over the quality. Future generations will never know real audio quality if/when they still listen in.

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