dab digital radio

Second National DAB Multiplex

The applications for the UK’s second national DAB multiplex were submitted last week, and have been blogged already.

I’m mentioning it here because the two bids, regardless of their lineups, have very different styles.

Channel 4’s bid oozes enthusiasm and big ideas, whilst NGW’s is more business like in it’s approach. That’s interesting because OFCOM, a bit like a jury, are supposed to judge the facts and nothing but the facts. Any accompanying razzmatazz should be completely ignored, and the winner decided purely on the merits of some fairly unemotional measures in the application document.

That’s been the theory of licence application since it began under the Radio Authority in the early 1990’s. Indeed, it was specifically emphasised in the old RA applications that providing additional information was discouraged and could jeopardise an application.

The reality is though that OFCOM live in the real world, surrounded by the real media, and they can’t help but absorb the excitment / enthusiasm / bullsh!t (take your pick) generated C4. It certainly puts them in a position where there will probably be more questions asked if C4 don’t win the 2nd licence than if they do.

On balance, I like what C4 have done. They’ve invigorated the business of DAB by bringing exciting new ideas and an apparent commitment to deliver. DigitalOne, as the existing national mux, has got all tied up in knots and hasn’t done anything new for radio for a long time (handing over 400kbit/s of capacity to a struggling Mobile TV service doesn’t really help radio).

Even if OFCOM steadfastly ignores these issues, it’s out in the open now, and the expectations for DAB should be set higher.

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