Sunday, 25 July 2010

DAB Radio energy & cost

I sent the the letter to Chris Huhne who is the Energy and Climate Change Secretary as I am concerned about a number of issue related to the switch off of the anologe signal for radio broadcasts.

Dear Mr Huhne,

DAB Radio Energy, cost and Climate Change

I was and am very pleased that you are the coalitions Energy and Climate Change Secretary and I was very impressed when I met you at the Southern Conference in Eastleigh and you spoke to me about the BNP and I was very pleased with your support for Professor David Nutt. But now you’re in government there is something I think you could act on quite easily.

I wish to bring to your attention my concern with DAB Radio and Energry Management. Firstly not only is the replacement of the current FM radios a concern but also the worry that DAB radio themselves many have to be replaced within a few years because of the new AAC+ audio codec, and existing stations that use the old MP2 format will probably be switched off completely in the UK in around 7-8 years' time.

All this replacement of radios tends to use materials and energy. Surely we should not be forcing people to throw away their old radios.

It is a known fact that DAB radios tend to consume more electricity than old-fashioned analogue one although this is improving I doubt they will ever use as little power as current analogue radios.

Also as Liberals I do not believe it is right to force people to give something up that works perfectly well. I myself like to use a small MW/FM radio at football games and I cannot find a DAB radio that functions this way.

I do not understand how this fits in with the Lib-dem’s environmental policies of greening our economy and tackling climate change or indeed the Conservative Green pledges. Is this not another piece of Big government Labour that needs to be scrapped. If not can this not be greatly delayed or put on

Of course the other issue is cost imagine how many voters particularly some older voters will be happy to hear that we are not spending all this money on digital radio antennas and adverts or indeed the saving they will make by not having to buy one. It would demonstrate good Liberal values and also not force the poorer people who pay the same money for DAB radios to buy them.

Please do write back to me and let me know your course of action as I will be publishing it on my Blog (

Other past contributors to this blog have also written letters to Chris Huhne on this issue, the letter below is from Bill Bloggs;

I wish to protest in the strongest possible terms against the Coalition Government’s plan to force all UK residents to change over from Analogue to Digital radio.

First of all, there is the needless personal cost to each and every one of us in a period of recession, money that could be far better spent by us - e.g. home insulation.

Secondly, this will mean the scrapping (and the costly and extremely limited recovery of any useful raw materials by recycling under WEEE) of millions of perfectly good FM radios.

This will not only include the great many cheaper basic radios, but will range right on up to lots of very expensive Stereo outfits. It will also involve all CD players that are combined with FM radios, as well as all clock radios - and worse still, it will encompass all those radio receivers fitted in our cars and trucks as well!

Can you please consider in great detail the total carbon footprint of this proposed changeover, as compared with all of the perceived benefits?

Can you please list these benefits for me, in any respect, including any conceivable energy saving, climate change and any other environmental advantages that may be involved?

The way I see it, it is true to say that the only really tangible benefit is to the manufacturers and retailers of all this new radio receiving equipment!

Making all of this new equipment is going to not only consume a great deal of money that is in very short supply, but also needlessly consume a huge amount of precious energy, and use up a lot more increasingly scarce raw materials as well.

I really cannot see how this fits in with the Lib-dem’s environmental policies of greening our economy and tackling climate change.

It looks far more like a Tory policy, giving way to a big business lobby once again!

When you have reached the sensible and logical conclusion that I would expect from you, both as a Lib-Dem MP and the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, I trust that you will do all in your power to stop this enforced changeover going ahead..

IMHO, purchasing a DAB radio, in any shape or form, should be left as a free market choice by the consumer, when such a purchase is under their unpressurised, natural consideration.

Furthermore, from an Energy Saving and Climate Change Action perspective, wouldn’t you agree that, ideally, each and every one of these new DAB radios should be sold with a reminder that, if you are buying one solely to keep up with the latest technology, you are needlessly consuming precious energy and natural resources and adding to your personal carbon footprint?

I very much look forward to hearing from you in due course.

There are other letters but I think you get the idea. When we receive our replies I will post them here.


  1. Isn't Huhne the weasel who has committed us to building 2,500 useless windmills ? I wouldn't worry about DAB or analogue radios. When the power cuts hit we'll be back to a town crier telling us what's going on. Hopefully he can sing aswell.

  2. Theres nothing wrong with having a few more windmills. Catn really see why thats bad. of course we also need other power statons but I bed its harder to get the local population to agree to those than it is the Windmills themselves

  3. daz
    It's bad because we're facing a shortfall of 40% in our energy needs and nothing is being done about it. You could build all of Huhne's 2,500 windmills and you would still need all the new power stations because the windmills can't store power so we need back up when it's not windy. They're only about 10% efficient anyway and require £20Bn in subsidies over the next 20 years to reach Huhne's / EU targets.
    It won't affect the adulterer '7 homes Huhne' because he's worth millions and won't be affected when the lights go out. He'll be sitting pretty eating taxpayer funded hobnobs with his feet up. India , China, SE Asia etc know that global warming is just a big scam so are ignoring the whole thing. Watching as we bankrupt ourselves on this mad religion of 'man made global warming'

  4. I'm not sure how much money someone has effects energy policy but it seems obvious there is some global warming going on. But I do agree we need more than wind farms. Wind tech will improve but won't cover 40percent. Bear in mind electricity consumption may not increase by that figure. Also you don't like Huhne so could be judging him unfairly. Of course me must and should be doing more. This post is not about that.

  5. There are a lot of down sides to DAB radio. With normal reception, even in bad areas one can still make out the vital score one was waiting for, or make sense of what is being said. Digital error correction can only cope with so many dropped bits then you loose the whole lot.
    No chance of making out what could have been there.
    It would be a great shame to loose the simplicity of AM broadcasts where with a crystal set you do not even need a battery.
    Electronics weekly points to a government report, that rather strangely reckons that DAB need less power. It all depends one how you use the statistics, and the report only covered mains powered radio. also has a good article on DAB:
    10 reasons why a digital radio switchover by 2015 will not work.
    1.Needless waste: Necessitates the scrapping of older radios which work perfectly fine with FM signal.
    2.Cost: Digital TV switchover simply required a relatively cheap box plugged into existing analogue sets. Not so with digital radio; this requires a complete new set to be purchased, at a much higher price than current analogue receivers.
    3.Sound quality: Outdated codec, and the urge to compress so many channels into such a small amount of bandwidth, means a substandard sound and trades quality for quantity.
    4.Coverage: Just like digital TV, the DAB signal is not available everywhere, meaning some listeners currently able to receive an FM signal will now be unable to listen at all.
    5.Car radios: Changing radios in cars will be difficult and very expensive. Only 1% of cars currently have digital capability.
    6.Incompatibility: DAB technology is incompatible with digital broadcasting systems around the world.
    7.British only: The DAB switchover means settling for more insular radio consumption, as only radio programmes from the UK will be available, while the scrapped sets were able to receive programmes from around the world.
    8.Power consumption: Digital radios guzzle power at a far higher rate than FM radios, meaning wasting more energy or money on batteries.
    9.Listening in bath: High cost of running a digital radio on batteries will mean, for many, no more listening to radio in the bath.
    10.Inconvenience: See points 1-9 above.

    There have been letters to the Telegraph recently on the subject. One correspondent points out that "Only last week, Sir Michael Lyons, the chairman of the BBC Trust, flagged up the need for a comprehensive rethink of the corporation's digital radio plans. FM remains the most robust, globally accepted and cost-effective broadcast technology. Coupled with the internet, FM can be part of a universally accepted digital future for radio."

    Lets hope that they have a rethink about this.

  6. Alvin that was very interesting although there's so much here you could of written a blog post on it. Feel free to blog the above and link to my article cheers