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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 4 March, 2003, 08:36 GMT
How digital TV boosts radio range

By Nick Higham
BBC media correspondent

BBC 7 launched last year
Decorating the living room the other day I tried something I don't (indeed can't) normally do and tuned the Sky box on my television to the radio.

In our house the main television set is monopolised by my children: my son even carries the remote control round in his pocket if he has to leave the room for a few seconds.

The notion that one could be in the same room as a device capable of delivering 384 channels of audio-plus-video and not actually watch it is entirely foreign to them.

But on Sunday I held the moral high ground: the paint brush and can in my hand were evidence that I was using my weekend wisely, not wasting it in front of the box.

Also the step-ladder was in line of sight between the sofa and the set.

Sonia Deol
Sonia Deol hosts the Asian Network's morning show
So my daughter sat and read Terry Pratchett and my son went away to text his girlfriend and I listened to Classic FM via satellite.

Somehow, as you do, I had assumed that others behaved as we did - that using the television to listen to the radio was just as unusual in other households.

When the BBC's Asian Network launched nationally on digital radio last autumn, and I was told that 22% of Asians used their televisions to listen to the radio, I leapt to the conclusion that this figure was untypically high.

It turns out I was wrong.


Listening to the radio on the television is even more popular among the population at large.

Figures from Rajar (which researches radio listening) and Continental Research (which has a panel of 10,000 Sky subscribers) show almost 40% of people with digital satellite claim to have used their DSat receiver to listen to the radio.

Between 30 and 33% (over three million) say they do it every month, 22 to 25% every week.

This is reassuring in many ways.

Although the number of digital radio sets in the UK is still tiny (135,000 at the end of last year), digital satellite and now Freeview ensure that there is a respectable potential audience for digital-only radio channels.


But as penetration of digital radios grows, many people will continue using their televisions to listen, and how many will switch to using radio-only receivers that can be listened to in more than one room, and perhaps even carried round the house like a traditional portable?

Listening to the radio rather than to the TV is certainly the norm in our house.

Our Pure Evoke digital receiver is in the kitchen - which is where I am normally banished to by my children if I threaten to interrupt their viewing.

This feature also appears in the BBC's staff magazine Ariel.

BBC7 radio launches with comedy
16 Dec 02 |  Entertainment
The digital radio dilemma
24 Jul 01 |  Entertainment
Keeping out of the ghetto
28 Oct 02 |  Entertainment
Digital radio and me
19 Aug 02 |  Entertainment

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