Maybe. But for the time being, Britain’s fledgling digital-radio industry will likely not be a money maker. While a number of companies, including British manufacturer Arcam, are already producing a range of digital radio receivers, the number of sets on the market is only a few thousand and sets still cost a pricey £300 ($480). But Howard predicts that cooperation between Digital One, the BBC and other commercial broadcasters will increase demand and, as supplies of digital sets increase, retail prices will fall. “It is up to the broadcasters to kick start the market,” he says.
The development of digital radio has also been delayed by the lack of a worldwide broadcasting standard. Europe has settled on a standard called Eureka 147, which has also been adopted by Canada, Mexico, South Africa and Australia. In fact, the only country looking for an alternative is the United States. To confuse matters further, European digital radio is broadcast via terrestrial transmitters, whereas the Americans are planning to broadcast via satellite. The U.K. broadcasters, however, feel their decision to encourage more digital sets to be manufactured and to create consumer demand has put Eureka 147 in position to be adopted as a global standard.