Norway to become first country to switch off FM radio in 2017 as country moves over to DAB

The government claimed digital radio would allow more stations to broadcast

Lizzie Dearden@lizziedearden
Tuesday 21 April 2015 11:04
Norway is getting rid of FM radio
Norway is getting rid of FM radio

Norway is to become the first country in the world to switch of FM radio in 2017 as it goes completely digital.

The government is scrapping the traditional broadcasting method in favour of DAB radio, which it claims will allow more channels to go on air.

Thorhild Widvey, the culture minister, said in a statement that the criteria for the proposed modernisation had been met and FM will be phased out gradually.

“Radio digitisation will open the door to a far greater range of radio channels, benefiting listeners across the country,” she added.

“Listeners will have access to more diverse and pluralistic radio content, and enjoy better sound quality and new functionality.”

Norway's government set criteria that had to be met before FM is switched off

There is only room for five national channels on FM in Norway, Ms Widvey said, but there is space for more than 40 on DAB.

Norway’s culture ministry also said that digital radio offered an advantage over FM during emergency situations because it is less vulnerable to transmitter failure and can be used to communicate with people underground with simultaneous broadcasts.

Proposals laid down in the Norwegian parliament in 2011 set down criteria to be met by January this year in order for radio digitisation to go ahead.

Requirements stipulated that the national broadcaster’s stations and those run by the biggest commercial broadcaster must cover at least 90 per cent of the population and digital radio must offer “added value” for listeners.

FM radio, which largely replaced AM radio, may soon be a thing of the past

The government also demanded “affordable and technically satisfactory solutions” for car radios and ensured that half of all radio listeners already used a digital station every day by the end of 2014.

A spokesperson for the culture ministry said the cost of transmitting national radio channels over the FM network was eight times higher than with DAB, which will save more than 200 million kroner (£17 million) a year.

DAB was launched publicly in the UK in 1995 and the country is now believed to have the biggest digital radio network in the world.

According to the latest statistics by national monitoring body Rajar, 89 per cent of the population tune in to the radio every week and more than half of those – 27.8 million people – listen digitally.

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