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Swiss Public Radio Commits to 2024 End for FM

SRG SSR cites low FM-only listenership, cost of maintaining 'outdated broadcasting technology'

SRG SSR’s Announcement of Its Year-End FM Switchoff Plan (via Instagram)

At year-end 2024, Swiss public broadcaster SRG SSR is going dark on FM across the county.

SRG SSR first launched DAB services in 1999 and over the past 25 years Swiss listeners have steadily shifted their listening from traditional analog broadcast to digital. According to the Digital Migration Working Group (DigMig WG), about 10% of the Swiss population uses only FM for radio listening, as of autumn 2023.

By comparison, 80% of radio listening now happens through digital channels (DAB+ or streaming), including two-thirds of in-car listening. FM radio use is greatest among listeners 55+, but even then it is only 23% of listening.

Over the past decade digital listening has accelerated as the Federal Office of Communications, private broadcasters, and SRG SSR began planning the full migration of services from FM to DAB+. Since 2020, stations have been allowed to end their FM services with the goal of full migration to DAB+ by year-end 2024. In October 2023 the Swiss Federal Council announced a final extension of FM licenses until year-end 2026 for those stations that had not yet completed the migration process.

Considering the decline in FM-only listening, SRG SSR Board of Directors determined that the cost of maintaining three parallel transmission technologies was not justified. The announcement, released in Switzerland’s four official languages, stated: “In view of the SRG SSR’s strained financial situation due to declining advertising revenues and inflation, further investments in outdated broadcasting technology are no longer justifiable.”

The announcement noted that, in addition to greater energy efficiency and cost savings for the operator, DAB+ and IP streaming provide listeners with better audio quality, as well as a wider range of programs than FM.

A targeted communication plan for autumn 2024 is planned to help affected listeners prepare for the FM switch-off, according to the statement.

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