Economy, Sci & Tech

Norway to Kill FM Radio Despite Strong Opposition

Norway to Kill FM Radio Despite Strong Opposition
Norway to Kill FM Radio Despite Strong Opposition

Norway is set to become the first nation to start switching off its FM radio network next week, in a risky and unpopular leap to digital technology that will be closely watched by other countries considering whether to follow suit, BD News reports.

Critics say the government is rushing the move and many people may miss warnings on emergencies that have until now been broadcast via the radio. Of particular concern are the 2 million cars on Norway’s roads that are not equipped with Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) receivers, they say.

Sixty-six percent of Norwegians oppose switching off FM, with just 17% in favor and the rest undecided, according to an opinion poll published by the daily Dagbladet last month.

Nevertheless, parliament gave the final go-ahead for the move last month, swayed by the fact that digital networks can carry more radio channels.

Switzerland plans a similar shift from 2020, and Britain and Denmark are among those also considering such a switch. A smooth transition to DAB, which is already beamed across Norway, could encourage these countries to move ahead.

The shutdown of the FM (Frequency Modulation) network, introduced in the 1950s, will begin in the northern city of Bodoe on January 11.

By the end of the year, all national FM broadcasts will be closed in favor of DAB, which backers say carries less hiss and clearer sound throughout the nation of 5 million people cut by fjords and mountains.

 Following Suit

For the same cost, digital radio in Norway allows eight times more radio stations than FM. The current system of parallel FM and digital networks, each of which cost about 250 million crowns ($29 million), saps investments in programs.

Among other nations, Britain plans to review the need for a switchover once digital listening reaches 50 percent. That could be reached by the end of 2017 on current trends, Digital Radio UK spokeswoman Yvette Dore said.

Meanwhile, Canada recently disconnected its digital radio service citing a lack of users. A post mortem of the service in the country said that a poor use of the radio spectrum and spotty signal were to blame.

Iran’s national broadcaster opted not to invest in DAB technology and instead chose to offer its radio services over digital television. Several radio stations are available in high-definition audio through this alternative method.

The Rouhani administration has made no comments about switching off the regular FM and AM signals. Analogue radio is popular in Iran due to the size of the country.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints