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Swiss FM Shutdown Reverts to Original 2024 Date

An earlier sunset of FM broadcasting is now postponed

The shutdown of FM broadcasting in Switzerland will take place on its original schedule by the end of 2024, not on an accelerated schedule that had been set out more recently.

That’s according to a digital working group run by the country’s radio industry and government regulator.

DigiMig (for “Digital Migration”) announced Thursday that VHF radio licenses will expire Dec. 31, 2024, the originally planned switch-off date that was set in 2014.

DigiMig has estimated that almost three quarters of radio use was digital as of the end of last year, a level of penetration that prompted a plan to advance the shutdown of FM to August of 2022 for the Swiss Broadcasting Corp. (SRG) and to January 2023 for private radio.

But now the group says that, although broadcasters in German- and Italian-speaking Switzerland were mostly ready for the earlier schedule, not enough radio broadcasters in French-speaking Switzerland would be prepared.

A later date also gives consumers more time for the changeover, it said. While almost all new cars sold in the country are now DAB+ compatible, it said, there is still a need for retrofitting many older cars to receive digital.

Further, broadcasters will save money with the postponement because stations won’t have to broadcast in both formats for an extended period of time.

The group indicated that by the end of 2024, DAB+ will have a stronger foothold in the market and that digitization of stations will have progressed further.

[Related: “Switzerland Inches Closer to FM Switch-off”]

The website Radio Central reports that in recent months, the FM shutdown has become more of a political issue, and that more voices had called the FM sunset into question.

“In July, media pioneer Roger Schawinski submitted a petition to the federal government with over 60,000 signatures against the shutdown of the VHF transmitters,” Radio Central reported. “After a meeting with Schawinski, the National Council’s Transport and Telecommunications Commission (KVF-N) also called for an in-depth examination of the consequences of not switching off VHF radio stations.”

It quoted Schawinski saying more than a million Swiss cars are unlikely to have DAB reception.

In 2017, Norway became the first country to migrate from FM to digital.

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