Home > Sound > Digital Radio > Digital Radio Struggles To Find Buyers

Digital Radio Struggles To Find Buyers

And despite broadcasters delivering channels like Radar, Gold Plus and Koffee consumers are still listening to AM and FM stations

Paul Gardner, chairman of advertising agency Grey Group told the Sydney Mormning Herald, that digital-only stations were ”minuscule” as far as advertisers were concerned, with ratings ”in the very, very low single figures”.

”I suspect [media owners] are giving them away – if you buy 25 spots on the main station, we’ll chuck in five spots on the digital station,” he said.

Mr Gardner said, however, there was room in the market for niche digital stations and they were going through an experimental period, or ”velcro marketing”. ”Let’s do a classical station, let’s do a jazz station, a comedy station – let’s throw them at a wall and if any of them stick, beauty.”

He said digital radio would take off in a big way once it got into cars. ”The percentage of people in the morning and afternoon drive times who listen to radio is just so large … at the moment, you’ve basically got talkback FM and talkback AM. It’s pretty boring. There’s not much there. If you want to listen to a few songs, it’s interrupted by news.”

The SMH reported that Consumer Magazine Choice rated 22 digital radios, priced from $70 to $749, in March. It found that ”highly compressed broadcasts from the radio stations, poor reception and a radio that’s just not up to the job can make them no better than an analog radio. You can’t do much about the first two and buying a digital radio with poor sound is simply a waste of money – you’d be better buying an analog radio for a fraction of the price.”

Choice spokeswoman Ingrid Just said digital radio’s added features were ”really useful”, especially the digital-only stations and the scrolling text with information such as track name and artist. Other useful options included wireless networking, line-out sockets and USB connections.

Just said the main advantage of the format was better reception – provided you weren’t in a black spot.

”The people most pleased with digital radio are those who have poor AM reception. That’s when they really notice the difference,” she said.

Choice who has also been critical of the quality and cost of digital radios said ”you’d be better off buying an analogue radio for a fraction of the price”.

Commercial Radio Australia chief executive Joan Warner said the industry faced a huge challenge in replacing the nation’s stock of analog radios.

”Listeners have an average of five to six radios … it will take some years to get those five to six radio devices in each house changed over,” said Ms Warner. ”That’s 50 million radios that need replacing.” Since the format was introduced in August 2009, 508,462 digital radios have been sold.