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Swiss Lawmakers Consider FM Shutoff Deadline

Proposal would shift shutoff from year-end 2024 to 90 percent use of digital platforms

(Flag-map courtesy Wikicommons)

Under a motion approved Dec. 7 by the Council of States, the upper house of the Swiss bicameral legislature, FM stations would be allowed to operate in the country until at least 90 percent of all radio listening in the country happens digitally via DAB+ or webcasting. The proposal must still be approved by the National Council before it is considered by the Swiss executive branch.

Currently, all FM licenses in the European nation are scheduled to expire at the end of 2024 by which time stations are expected to have completed the transition to DAB+. Between now and then, FM stations can voluntarily shutter their analog operations.

In August, Swiss media regulator BAKOM set Dec. 31, 2024, as the FM shutoff date for the country. The regulator had targeted an earlier date for the complete switchover to DAB+, but stations in the French-speaking portion of the country were not as far along with the transition as their counterparts in the German- and Italian-speaking cantons.

[Previously: “Swiss FM Shutdown Reverts to Original 2024 Date”]

According to a report in the German-language Klein Report, the motion was proposed by Ruedi Noser, an FDP.The Liberals party councilor from Zürich. Noser has long been skeptical of the push to move broadcasters from FM to DAB.

The report notes that even if the 90-percent threshold is approved by the National Council (the Swiss lower house) and the Federal Council, it may not mean much of a reprieve for FM radio in Switzerland. The latest consumer survey by researcher Gfk Switzerland found that about 88 percent of Swiss radio listening happens via digital platforms.

In making the proposal, Noser also asked the Federal Council, the executive branch of the Swiss government, to investigate whether or not DAB+ was an “outdated” standard, comparing to internet radio and mobile streaming services.

“I don’t know whether you have already noticed that practically everything that comes to market today is attached to the Internet. The DAB standard is not an internet standard,” said Noser. “The DAB standard is a separate technical standard for radio — nothing else. Maybe at some point we will have to discuss switching off DAB.”

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