Earlier today, trade website Current tried to discredit 4Square Media and websites ChannelNews and SmartHouse by claiming that we had engaged in an alarmist reporting over Digital Radio in Australia.
While they did not name 4Square Media websites, they did link the claims with our exclusive story that highlighted the problems associated with the roll out of digital radio in Sydney.
They claimed that Commercial Radio Australia Chief Executive Joan Warner had taken umbrage with claims that consumers who had already purchased digital radio will need factory resets to receive DAB+ radio.
The reason why ChannelNews and SmartHouse was able to accurately report on the digital radio issues in Sydney, was because we actually check press releases and in particular, claims made by Commercial Radio Australia before we publish them. .
Earlier this week, Commercial Radio Australia announced that digital radio was now up and running in Sydney. We chose to test two digital radio systems to see what level of service was being delivered and what we found was that with both digital radios’ we were not able to receive an DAB+ signal.
We consulted with Pioneer, distributors of the Pure digital radio brand in Australia, Pure radio from the UK, as well as Len Wallis of Len Wallis audio in Sydney on the issue.
In an e-mail to 4SquareMedia, Len Wallis said: “Following your call last night, I also could not get anything up on the Pure digital radio.”
We also consulted with Commercial radio Australia who advised us that a certain amount of resetting and retuning would have to take place with all digital radios that had been purchased during the past 4 weeks following heavy promotions by retailers in Australia for digital radio’s.
Prior to 4Square Media revealing the problem neither Current, nor Commercial Radio Australia had alerted consumers to the tuning problem nor had either organisation made announcement or informed retailers that full digital radio including DAB + would not be going to air on May 30th 2009 as highlighted at the recent Pure digital radio press conference in Sydney.
It is also clear from her recent statements that Joan Warner of Commercial Radio Australia and Current have failed to understand the problems associated with having to retune a digital radio particularly among consumers, many who are elderly.
No press statement or alert to retailers responsible for selling digital radio was issued by CRA relating to the tuning issue. Even the CRA press release announcing that digital radio in Sydney was now live failed to mention the tuning problem that hundreds of consumers would face when they moved from a test signal to a full signal.
CRA has deliberately engaged in misleading practices in the past. I believe that Warner and CRA are totally out of touch with the audience that is most likely to buy a digital radio as many of these consumers are often naive of technical issue and often turn to retailers for help.
Warner’s so called “slight technical issue” is not slight if it prevents a user from actually getting transmission of a digital radio signal from a brand new radio that they have just paid hundreds of dollars for.
At the Pure digital press conference held in Sydney and attended by Warner, executives from Pure, Pioneer, and Austereo all said that digital radio would commence on the 30th of May. Warner, knowing full well that this would not happen, made no attempt to correct the misinformation despite there being a full question and answer session at which technical staff from CRA spoke.
At the time she knew that the roll out of digital radio in Sydney was in trouble. She also knew that there is no chance that the service that is already up and running in other parts of Australia would be available on the date given out at the Sydney digital radio press conference.
Even days afterwards, Warner failed to tell journalists that the digital radio service in Sydney had not commenced and it took SmartHouse and ChannelNews to exclusively reveal to the market that digital radio would not be available as promised on May 30th.
In a statement issued yesterday by Commercial Radio Australia, Warner says: “Radio listeners in Sydney who listened to the digital radio trial on a DAB+ receiver before permanent DAB+ services commenced on Monday, 15 June simply need to do a “full scan” or “auto tune” on the digital radio menu to find all the new digital radio stations.”
Sorry Joan, but this does not work as we tried it on two Pure Digital Radio’s. What needs to be done with a Pure Radio is that a consumer has to scroll through to options on the Avanti model, then go to DAB Settings, then scroll through to Trim Station List. If you are lucky, it will reset the stations.
On two occasions this process failed to tune the stations immediatly.
In a new statement issued to 4Square Media today Warner said, “All the new station names will appear but on some receivers also the current analogue station names will be listed but with a question mark – for example – ?Nova and if selected will read ‘station not available”. To remove the old station names some radios have a “trim station list” option. If the radio does not have a “trim station” option, it may need a “factory reset” which is obviously different on all receivers but is also an easy scroll through process, followed by a “full scan” or “auto tune.”
This all sounds very complicated especially for someone who does not have a clue about technology and has not even been informed that there is a problem. Remember Joan Warner has told the world that digital radio is now up and running in Sydney with no mention of a problem. (See full statement PDF below made by CRA on the 15th of June 2009). She has not told the market that there was a problem. It took SmartHouse and ChannelNews to identify this problem.
The only alarmist and inaccurate issue is the reporting by Patrick Avenell of Current and the actions of Joan Warner and Commercial Radio Australia who have failed to keep both consumers and the trade informed on important issue relating to the roll out of digital radio in Australia.
SmartHouse and ChannelNews have not ony acted in a responsible manner, we have done a job that Commercial Radio Australia should have done in keeping consumers informed.