Digital Radio UK Claims "Milestone" in Digital Listening -- Critics Disagree

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Proponents of DAB in the UK are boasting a major breakthrough in listening, says John Plunkett in a May 2010report in the Guardian UK. According to Q1 2010 numbers recently released by the Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR) organization that measures and profiles the audiences of UK radio stations, the share of digital listening in the UK jumped from 20.9 percent in Q4 2009 to 24 percent in Q1 2010.

Among the big winners is the BBC's Radio 6 -- an eclectic DAB-only rock channel that netted a whopping 47 percent gain in listener share over Q4 2009. Commercial classic rocker Absolute radio also posted a heady 37 percent increase.

Ironically, Radio 6 is likely to become history as the BBC prepares to absorb massive budget cuts -- now a near-certainty since elections recently toppled England's Labor Party government.

But DAB critics say the overall numbers may be little misleading, since they actually represent the sum total of all digital audio broadcast listening, including DTV, DAB and Internet radio. Analyst and DAB detractor Grant Goddard faults glowing mainstream press reports on the RAJAR data for not mentioning that average TSL for radio in the UK continued to fall throughout the period and that any growth is a result of immigration swelling the UK's population base, as opposed to per capita growth in radio listening, digital or otherwise.

In any case, Digital Radio UK CEO Ford Ennals appears to find a lot to like in the RAJAR ratings, calling them really encouraging and a milestone in Britain's progress toward achieving the goals set forth in the country's recently adopted Digital Economy Act.

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