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ASA on digital radio

Advertising body rebukes claims

An advert promoting digital radio has been criticised by watchdogs for making misleading claims about its sound quality.

The commercial for radio group Switchdigital said digital radio listeners enjoyed ‘crystal clear’ and ‘distortion free’ sound.

But the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said this wasn’t the case. It upheld a complaint from a listener who said that although digital radio was free from the hiss and crackle of analogue radio, there was still a gurgling noise.

Switchdigital (London) Ltd was also criticised for suggesting digital radio was better than analogue.

The ASA said: ‘We received no evidence to show that DAB digital radio was superior to analogue radio in terms of audio quality.’

Which? technology expert Dave Holes said: ‘We’d agree with the ASA – in poor signal areas you can indeed get distorted sound and a ‘burbling’ effect. Our tests have also shown that the sound quality of a digital radio isn’t necessarily any better than you can get from a good analogue FM radio – what you do get however is access to many more stations.

‘Digital radio can be received in many different ways, via radio transmissions, via digital TV transmissions such as Freeview/Sky, or via the internet. Studies suggest that audio quality via these different delivery systems can vary too. We’ve currently got tests underway investigating this and will bring results out in our February 2006 digital radio article.’

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