Norway to end FM radio, go digital by 2017

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – @BednarChuck

FM radio is about to go the way of VHS tapes and 8-tracks in Norway, where the Minister of Culture has announced plans to transition completely over to digital radio by the year 2017.

According to Gizmodo, the switchover will mark “the end of an era,” as Norway will become the first country to go fully digital with its radio broadcast. On the positive side, the switch to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) will give residents more choices, as their current DAB lineup already has 22 national channels compared to just five FM stations.

The website added that a recent TNS Gallup survey indicates that more than half of the country currently listens to digital radio on a daily basis. While Norway is the first nation to set a firm termination date for FM radio broadcast, similar transitions are also reportedly in the works in both Europe and Southeast Asia.

Cheaper to operate, more options for consumers

In a statement issued last Thursday, the Norwegian government explained that the decision to go full digital within the next two years comes on the heels of a mandate issued by the Storting (the country’s parliament) back in 2011.

They also explained that it cost eight times more to transmit FM radio channels than it will to do so through the DAB network, and that the digitization of Norway’s national radio channels will save the country more than over $25 million (NOK 200 million) annually. That savings, officials explained, will allow for a greater investment in radio content.

“Radio digitization will open the door to a far greater range of radio channels, benefiting listeners across the country,” said Minister of Culture Thorhild Widvey. “Listeners will have access to more diverse and pluralistic radio content, and enjoy better sound quality and new functionality. Digitization will also greatly improve the emergency preparedness system, facilitate increased competition and offer new opportunities for innovation and development.”

She added that the DAB network has capacity for “almost 20 more” channels in addition to its existing 22. The country set a deadline for January 1 of this year to determine if the digital switchover was feasible – meaning that it had to represent added value to listeners, and that there had to be affordable, technically satisfactory  available for radio reception in vehicles.

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