Digital Radio Switchover – FM Dead?

Staff Writer

The official switching off of most FM stations to DAB started in Norway overnight.

Representatives from radio in Norway and around the world gathered to mark the occasion, throwing a switch from FM to DAB and DAB+.

National FM networks will be switched off region by region – starting in Nordland and progressing across the whole country throughout 2017. The final regions, Troms and Finnmark, will complete the process in December.

“Today’s digital switchover is a hugely important milestone for the radio industry,” said Patrick Hannon, President, WorldDAB. “The DAB platform is far more efficient than FM – offering both greater choice and clearer sound. With the start of the switch-over process, Norway is sending a clear signal across the world that the future of radio is digital.”

Ole Jørgen Torvmark, CEO of Digital Radio Norway, said: “This is a historic day for radio. We want to see radio continue its development on digital platforms, following the FM-technology that lifted radio from its beginning on AM. The Norwegian broadcasters are showing the digital possibilities today by launching five new radio stations, giving the listeners 30 national channels in total. The world’s first digital switchover is made possible through collaboration across Government, broadcasters and supply chain. Throughout 2017, the focus will be to help all listeners with the transition.”

Other international markets are following Norway’s lead. Switzerland is planning for switch-over to begin in 2020 and a major promotional campaign to raise awareness starts this year. The North-Italian region of South Tyrol will start its FM switch-off in 2017.

A commitment to digital switchover has significant benefits for broadcasters, manufacturers and listeners,” says Patrick Hannon. “It provides certainty on the future and allows broadcasters and radio manufacturers to plan and invest accordingly. For listeners, this greater investment and innovation in radio means more choice – today in Bodø consumers have access to 30 national stations on DAB+, compared to just five on FM.”

While in the UK, the government has stated it will review the next steps for digital radio when its criteria for coverage and listening are met – expected to be achieved by the end of 2017. Germany and Denmark have both recently announced second national multiplexes, the Netherlands continues to make good progress, France has announced continued geographic expansion, Slovenia launched national services in 2016 and Belgium has announced plans for a federal DAB+ launch across Flanders and Wallonia in 2018. Outside of Europe, Australia is making some inroads.

As reported on Radio Today, Digital radio services are expanding across Australia with trials in Canberra and Darwin to be made permanent and digital radio to be added to Hobart and the Gold Coast over the next two to three years.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority, in consultation with the Digital Radio Planning Committee, has prepared a package of planning papers for the future development of DAB+ digital radio across Australia.

CEO of Commercial Radio Australia shared with Radio Today earlier this week on Australia’s DAB moves last year saying: “Exciting progress in DAB+ digital radio with 27% of metro listening to DAB+ each week and significant progress in regional rollout with permanent services recently announced for Canberra, Darwin and Hobart.”

The Norwegian switchover applies to national radio stations and commercial local radio stations broadcasting in larger cities. Community radio stations and smaller local stations will continue to broadcast on FM for five more years after national switch off, at which point licences will be reviewed.

Thanks to our partners and Radio Today UK for some of the content – read more here.



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Recent comments (2)
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Knut Sand
1 Dec 2017 - 5:35 am

As a Norwegian and pretty devoted radio listener, i think some update info is relevant.
1; DAB+ coverage is not as expected. They used the % coverage of people, not land area. Leaving large areas with no radio.
2; the physical limitations of the DAB+ signal has not been adressed. A passing lorry will knock out the signal in a car.
3; we were promised more radio channels. We got that. But; approximately the same no.of employees result in same comments, music, and probably much data-generated choice of files. Not impressed.
4; my houshold have invested approximately 800 euros for new radios ( 4, plus car adapter). That mean, this “upgrade” has cost us Norwegians approximately 2 000 000 000 euros.
5; some car adapters use FM signal; we can listen when the guy in the next car call his doctor, often more interesting than the radio programme…
6; traffic information to car GPS is not working.
7; foregneirs visiting Norway have no access to FM radios ( which is implemented in most smartphones)
8; battery life in DAB+ radios, sucks…
An old FM receiver will last 5-10 times on battery.
9; look up ITU report 2299. FM is the prefered radio in crisis. DAB is not mentioned. Good to know that snow avalanches never happens here. We never looses the electricity in the winter (irony).
10; NRK and Bauer media will never tell the thruth, they have an agenda.
11; Sweden were not fooled, like Norway…
Regards Knut Sand

David Maconochie
29 Nov 2018 - 12:15 pm

The biggest objection to DAB+ is the poor sound quality. Yes, the background noise is low, but the sound you get from the 80kbs that most Australian stations have been allocated is painful to listen to, and an insult to the musicians and recording engineers involved.

You want FM quality sound? You will need 256kbs at least.


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