An effective lobby in Norway made politicians to disregard public interest As the only country in the world so far, Norway has taken the step of closing the FM
Photo: Odd Richard Valmot
network for national terrestrial radio and switching to digital DAB +. Given the massive development of radio online and the fact that FM is an established world standard in all 220 countries, this dramatic step has surprised the outside world. How could two neighboring countries - Norway and Sweden - make such diametrically different decisions? In Norway, the conversion has not been popular and the listening to NRK and the TV commercial networks have also decreased in favor of local radio on FM. DAB is already forgotten. But what and who was behind the controversial Norwegian decision? (Image: Minister of Culture Anniken Huitfeldt (Ap) and Culture Ministry official Øyvind Christensen, at publication of the 2011 Storting DAB Proposal)
Will radio listeners rather keep their six billion FM receivers? Terrestrial digital radio is still the wet dream for some broadcasters especially in the European public service sector. There are several different such systems but DAB is the system which has been initiated by some European public service broadcasters. But since the system was introduced and taken into operation by BBC 1995 the progress is quite limited in spite of DAB being aggressively promoted by the EBU and WorldDAB organisations.
Here you will find some major observations and read an analysis indicating that DAB will not survive another decade. Not even in Norway.
FM switch-off in Norway not a good example for German commercial radio In an interview, Klaus Schunck chairman of the German commercial radio organization VPRT warns against the Norwegian example of falling listening figures when closing FM broadcasting. He believes that commercial radio can accept a transition to DAB only when FM listening is below 10%. The interview was made in the light of the failure to push through a transition agreement in the German government coalition setup.
National channels now only available on DAB. But many listeners will stay on FM or go online.
An increasing number of Norwegian radio listeners now prefer local radio on FM instead of national DAB. This is while 1 million cars still lack DAB radio. The Progress Party (Frp) in Oslo has now adopted at a resolution that local radio should continue on FM, even after 2021. According to lokalradio.no sources, the resolution will probably be adopted at the forthcoming national party congress. The party is in charge of the finance ministry.
Setback for the DAB lobby: FM shutdown plan again removed from coalition agreement Today CDU/CSU and SPD have agreed on a government coalition agreement. In the meantime, a very strongly polarizing media topic - digital radio - has been removed from the treaty: the stipulation for an FM shutdown during the coming mandate period. Instead, a non-committing wording is included in the agreement. (as follows below)
Neigbouring Sweden continues to expand FM networks. The security situation will leave DAB out of the picture. The increasingly tense security situation around the Baltic Sea has definitely killed all visions of replacing the current FM networks with any different technologies like DAB+ in Sweden. This according to our reliable sources in government authorities. Reports from Norway during the 2017 national FM switch-off also confirm many of the concerns expressed in referral reports from several Swedish authorities regarding the latest digital radio 2015 proposal to replace FM with DAB+. - Now, there are indications of an upcoming disaster for the radio emergency alert capacity in Norway unless there will be a change of course.
A protest storm by commercial radio organisations. Bavaria poll: Overwhelming majority against FM shutdown. Bavaria is the German state in which the digital radio DAB+ is most developed. But still almost next to none want a shutdown of the analogue FM radio (VHF) in favor of DAB according emerges from a survey of the private broadcaster Antenne Bayern . "Shall we force a shutdown on VHF?", the station asked. A staggering 91.6 percent of respondents say "No, they want to decide for themselves how to receive radio." Only 8.4 percent said they could do without FM.
Lobbyists are spreading a false picture of the digital OTA transition During 2017 Norway switched-off its national FM network and replaced it with DAB+. Reports distributed by DAB promoters to international media depict the transition as ”successful”. However, the listeners do not agree. Last month the Oslo daily Dagbladet published a Ipsos poll indicating that 56% of the Norwegians are not satisfied with DAB, 31% satisfied and 12% do not know. Trying to force the listeners to scrap their FM receivers and invest in DAB+ receivers will come to a high cost for the three major broadcasters. Public radio NRK has lost a considerable part of its listeners – about a fifth during 2017.
Will the new Minister of Culture also be in the hands of lobbyists? Prime Minister Erna Solberg has presented his new tripartite government. New Minister of Culture Trine Skei Grande (Venstre = Liberals), has previously shown that she has experience from radio and is skeptical about DAB. In the 2011 parliamentary debate on DAB radio report, she expressed skepticism before taking the decision. She hoped it was the last time the politicians in Stortinget decided on an information-sharing technology.
Upgrade to DAB+ decreased DAB listening by 40% More than every third DAB listener lost digital radio right after the old DAB channels were shut down in October. But many have found new ways to receive radio such as FM and the Internet. When the network was upgraded to the newer technology DAB+ in October last year, between 200,000 and 400,000 Danish radio receivers became unusable. Shortly after the change, DAB listening fell by 40%, according to the public radio Danmarks Radio (DR).
Digital radio test in two Dutch cities stopped The DAB+ experiment in Rijswijk and Zoetermeer was stopped yesterday. In July 2017, Feel Good Radio decided to take part in the national experiment to find the best way for local channels to use DAB. Indoor reception of the channel was not sufficient in many cases.
Government questioned about DAB and secret agreements. Radio Metro tries to resist switch-off. The national channels have now switched-off FM, but the political part of the process is far from over. After a year of overwhelmingly negative opinion, especially in daily press and social media, the government politicians have now started reacting. Written questions were sent to the Minister of Culture about DAB. MP Hege Haukeland Liadal (Social Democrats) asked: Can the Minister of Culture inform about the total development cost of DAB has been as of December 1 2017 compared to the costs the alternative to maintaining and upgrading of the FM network?