Saturday, 7 August 2010

Are you receiving?

Here in the UK, we have been enjoying the option of digital radio broadcasting for a few years now, and were sold on the idea by claims of the superior strength and resilience of the signal, as compared to analogue. I never bothered to check to see where these claims came from, but I am pretty sure they must have emanated from the global manufacturers who make all the electronic stuff that we fill our homes with.

The best thing about a digital signal (they said) was that it would reach your little radio, no matter where you live in the heart of the concrete jungle, because it would bounce off walls and increase in strength each time it ricocheted until it would turn up - as fresh as a daisy - to be warmly received by your set.

Well, the reality is - here in the heart of my Georgian stone jungle - that the half of the city which lives in the shadow of the hill which hosts the digital mast, cannot receive any signal at all, and has to rely on cable to listen to Radio 7. Those of us who can get the signal find that it is occasionally interrupted (i.e. completely gone) in certain weather conditions. Typically, these conditions amount to light rain accompanied by a light wind. I don't know whether or not you are familiar with British weather systems, but light winds and rain can be quite common in this part of the world.

They said that a digital broadcast is either on or off, but if you have ever listened to a friend (as I have) broadcasting from a war-zone, only to hear his voice break up in such a way as to make it seem that he is on the receiving-end of a prolonged machine-gun burst, then you will know that this is not always the case.

Sometime next year (I think) 'they' are going to switch off analogue signals completely and all our current TV and radio sets - including those in cars - will become obsolete and unusable. What a great way to boost the (Chinese and Malaysian) economy! We will all have to go out and buy brand-new radio-alarms for the bedside, new TVs, new arial systems, etc. etc.

I don't have anything against going digital per se - my life has been enhanced by the digital revolution. I even have frequent arguments with those anoraks who insist that vinyl has much better sound quality than C.D. (as if...), but I can't help thinking that this whole business is yet another way in which us ordinary people are treated as cows to be milked for the sake of corporate financial health, whether we have shares in the company or not.


  1. I have a Sky box over here, and most of the non-BBC or ITV chanels break up in foul weather. One really would have thought that a digital satellite signal would have been strong enough to cope. With analogue that never happened.

    What happened to your Welsh police video on Lifestyle? I thought that was worth showing to the world; especially trans-pond.

  2. I binned the Welsh coppers - too depressing. Besides, it had already 500+ comments on the original site, so it's getting enough attention.