Norway Sets Date for FM Switch Off

By Michael Silbergleid

The following press release was issued by WorldDMB:

Norway sets date for FM Switch Off

London, February 4, 2011

Following the publication of a report from the Ministry of Culture today, Norway will enact legislation to enable the migration of radio from FM to DAB across the country by 2017, when analogue FM broadcasting will cease.

Norway was one of the first countries to embrace digital radio using the Eureka 147 family of standards, and coverage currently stands at 80%. This will rise to 99.8% by 2017 as broadcasters build out transmitters to match FM reach.

Ole Jorgen Torvmark, General Manager of Digitalradio Norway, welcomes the government’s decision. “We are pleased with the fact that our Minister of Culture, Ms Anniken Huitfeldt, understands the need for a clear strategy from the authorities. It will provide all radio listeners with a much bigger selection of channels,” he says.

The news from Norway supports a growing trend in Europe to move analogue radio services to digital platforms. The UK already has a target switch-over date of 2015, while in France, a law passed in 2009 calls for all domestic radio receivers to be digitally enabled by 2013, with in-car radios equipped by 2015. In Germany, a new law is currently being drafted which will set a date (expected to be within the next four years) for all receivers to be digital. Germany is Europe’s biggest radio market and recently announced a series of new national DAB+ radio stations to be launched in 2011, along with regional digital radio services from both public and commercial broadcasters.

WorldDMB President, Jorn Jensen says: “The momentum for digital radio switchover in Europe is growing very fast. Norway’s is a considered, well researched decision based on consultation with broadcasters and listeners alike. It follows several years of trials during which the benefits of digital radio versus analogue have been fully explored. WorldDMB members are delighted with today’s news which heralds positive moves in 2011 for the international radio industry.”

The report* contains various criteria for switch-over, including coverage and listening targets, along with a timetable for implementation once the said criteria have been met.

Support for DAB as the digital standard of choice for radio continues to grow. With Norway, the UK, France and Germany leading the way, there is a sense in the industry that a long period of trials and testing is coming to an end and we are entering a period of transition from FM to digital broadcasting across the continent.

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