Mass Media & Technology

RTÉ to Cease Broadcasting on DAB

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Seems like a downgrade. Was DAB not successful in Ireland?
DAB's a downgrade from FM in audio quality terms. Bitrates are laughably low and often in mono, you usually are better off listening on FM.

Seems like a downgrade. Was DAB not successful in Ireland?

8% in total listen to Radio on a Digital Device in Ireland but as only 1-2% of the population listen to Radio using DAB, you'd have to say no. However, there are various reasons for this including a limited amount of transmitters, No commercial backing as such from the independent sector, and a lack of promotion of the service by RTE.

You'll still be able to get all the RTE stations on Saorview, the main 4 stations that have major listenership on FM, the RTE 1 LW service will broadcast some of RTE Radio 1 Extra so 98% of RTE listeners won't even notice. The exception would be RTE Gold, but most people that would listen to that station do so via the internet or Saorview.

I would suspect that RTE's Digital stations have a low enough audience. (that includes RTE Gold) I've never seen actual figures for them.
No surprise here from RTE as I have always felt the Irish broadcaster was stretching themselves too far with digital radio stations.

Here in the UK DAB and DAB+ is reasonably popular, you only have to look at stations from the Global network such as LBC Radio getting nearly 3 million listeners a week, which is not bad, and Heart Radio getting nearly 10 million listeners a week.

RTE really need to scale back a lot, and stop trying to be the BBC in Ireland. All RTE really need is two television channels, four radio stations and a more decent online service, where more programming from television and radio could be based. It would save them a lot of money I am sure.
From a UK perspective it seems very odd for a country to go backwards in terms of choice. I know James makes the point that the audio quality of DAB stations isn't great, but the reason why is to fit in the sheer number of stations available now, which I think is the main reason DAB has ultimately been a success here.
Also, how many people genuinely care/notice the quality on the poor set they’re probably using in the kitchen? I’m freer with opinions like that now the forum is closing and I want to get them out before the new place opens...
There was a sweet point for DAB probably 10 years ago, If you had a DAB up and running at that stage, you could probably build a platform that would last decades. However, in the last 10 years it's become easier and easier to listen to your own choice in music via the internet.

I would think the majority of people in Ireland are happy with what they can receive on FM. There is a minority (myself included) that would like more choice but that's available on my phone... I've 2 phones (not that unusual at this stage) I listen to hours of Radio on my personal phone. I've unlimited Calls/Data for 9.99 a month and almost unlimited choice from radio stations around the world. DAB can't compete with that. I also have DAB radio's that haven't been used in years.
rdd Founding member
I kind of alluded to the biggest reason for its lack of success here in the recent thread on the Communicorp buy out. DAB had absolutely no buy in from the commercial sector here. None. RTE were the only people pushing it and they were semi interested at best. The ILR stations were looking at it with a range of feelings from suspicion to fright. A few of them have built their entire marketing on their FM frequencies -as I mentioned recently, the thought of an Irish station not including their FM frequency in their jingles is unknown. Most of them outside Dublin have a very big local image thing going, playing on local identities and GAA rivalries, and the thought of being involved in any sort of “multiplex” is abhorrent to them - they want local exclusivity on being local and that’s how they were franchised. That goes even for the ones that are part of chains like Wireless Group. There is virtually no networking outside of news other than between Spin 1038 and Spin Southwest.
Hatton Cross
Getting commercial radio on board in the UK was seen as vital to the drive towards DAB listening.

OK, so the IBA/RA also assisted the BBC with the technical standards, but it also helped that the regulator, threw the ILR lads a massive sweetener in the form of an automatic licence renewal for all frequencies, if they also took space on a DAB multiplex.

One wonders if DAB in Ireland would have had a bigger takeup outside of the walls of the radio centre in Dunnybrook, if the BAI did that 10-15 years ago as well.
AndrewPSSP, chinamug and London Lite gave kudos
London Lite Founding member
Personally I think that the Irish commercial sector decided to stifle competition by keeping radio on FM, so that some of these stations could keep their rural fiefdoms where they're stuck in the 80s.

While Ireland has a DTT service, the fact that Virgin Media won't pay for HD for their three channels on that platform is once again stifling competition.
Personally I think that the Irish commercial sector decided to stifle competition by keeping radio on FM, so that some of these stations could keep their rural fiefdoms where they're stuck in the 80s.

While Ireland has a DTT service, the fact that Virgin Media won't pay for HD for their three channels on that platform is once again stifling competition.

To be fair, they're not stuck in the 80's, it's more the late 90's. There is a difference, no one in their right mind would want to be stuck in Ireland in the 80's.

Also many of these local stations have figures that any UK station would kill for. A load of them have a daily market share of over 40% of listenership, Highland Radio in Donegal has 66.6%. Shocked

Now anytime I've been in the Highland Radio franchise area I've done band scans and you can get DAB in a lot of the area and BBC Radio on FM, as well as the Irish National Stations. There's plenty of choice in lots of Donegal but they still end up listening to Highland Radio.

The best way to know if a station is popular in an area (in Ireland) is to see what station is playing in Corner shops, the two that tend to be on when I'm travelling around (pre-Covid) are the Local stations and RTE Gold.
Television and radio broadcasting in the Irish republic has always been miles and years behind Britain. One media critic wrote about Irish television and radio said there was always a "lag" in what Britain did with broadcasting with Ireland following along at a very slow pace.

He wrote as a prime example - schedules on RTE Television. In 1972, the British government lifted all of the restrictions on broadcasting hours, and this began a proper daytime television service on British television, especially on ITV. In Ireland, there was never any restrictions, just a lack of money and a very conservative nature in RTE which led to what he called a "cheese sparing" approach to broadcasting.

You don't have to look too far back in time to see how slow a pace RTE Television was in their schedules. Even by the 1988 relaunch of RTE One and renaming RTE 2 as Network 2, their broadcasting hours were so limited, with a 2.30pm start time for both channels in 1988, with RTE only launching a lunchtime news on RTE One in October 1989. Their broadcasting days also ended very early, sometimes even around 11pm at night in the mid to late 1980s.

There was always a sense of a lack of energy to provide a proper schedule on the channels to supply daytime television, as RTE management felt that as nearly 70% of the population had access to the UK channels by 1988, there was no need for RTE to bother opening up their channels before lunchtime. The summer season for RTE was notorious for severe cutbacks, even in 1990, they would end their lunchtime 1pm News by June and it would not return until September, with RTE One not opening up until 3.05pm on a summer weekday in 1990 - yes 1990, not 1980, 1990!!

RTE has always had a very lax approach to broadcasting, a "that will do" approach. This is the state broadcaster which in 1982 built the shell of their largest studio, Studio 4, but failed to provide enough money to actually equip the studio out until 1986. It was not until a complete overhaul of Studio 4 in the summer of 1995 before their big entertainment shows such as Late Late Show ever considered moving from Studio 1, a smaller studio in size to Studio 4.

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