Why Doesn’t Consumerism Apply to Digital Radio?
Wikipedia defines consumerism as a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts. Every year, more than 2.2 million mobile phones, 1.3 million small kitchen appliances, 600,000 television sets, 500,000 digital cameras and 250,000 DVD/Blue-ray players are sold every year in Norway according to the Organization of Consumer Electronics.
Let’s look at the biggest group of electronics. Out of the 2,2 million mobile phones sold every year, only 36,000 are returned for recycling. That is barely more than a percent and a half. And keep in mind that the average life of a mobile phone in this country is less than 18 months.
77% of the phones that are sold have 3G capabilities, meaning that they are relatively advanced, probably costing at least 200 USD. And those who ‘need’ the best and latest can easily pay five times that for a phone.
But people do not complain about having to replace their phone almost once a year. You may argue that it is due to personal choice, but most phones don’t last much longer even if you want them to. Not a surprise really, given that they are carried everywhere, switched on 24/7, recharged every night, spilled on, sat on, occasionally dropped and used for everything from internet surfing, game plays and navigation to phone calls, text messages and calculations.
So it may be OK to pay 200-1,000 dollars every 18 months to get a new and fancier than last time. After allm they are also fashion items. Or so Steve’s people have made us believe.
What’s that got to do with it? We are at the same time discussing the possibility to switch off analogue radio, or FM. That is causing some people to cry out load and object. Because that means that the radio receiver they have had for 4, 14 or 44 years and paid 44, 14 or 4 dollars for will no longer work. Disastrous! And not at all environmentally friendly, damnit! Neither is getting 1.3 million kitchen appliances every year.
Well, by switching off FM, you will actually save millions and millions of kWh a year. That’s green! And the broadcasters will save millions of dollars that they can use to create better programmes to their listeners. Including you. Eveveryone will get access to many more radio stations, the DAB receivers are more user friendly than their FM brothers and you can even get higher sound quality if the broadcasters so decide (by providing enough bandwidth).
You will not even have to get a new radio. As was the case with analogue switch off for television (did you complain about that too?) you can get an acessory, an extra box if you like, that receives DAB and retransmits the signal via a very low powered FM transmitter so that your existing FM radio can receive it.
In Norway alone, 800,000 radios are sold every year (not including radios in mobile phones). How about if FM is swicthed off in 5 years? Most households will by then have purchased a new radio anyway – without buying a radio that you wouldn’t anyhow have purchased, why not make that new one a DAB radio?