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FM Radio Not — Yet — Dead in Norway, Says NLF

The sweeping transition to DAB in 2017 won't immediately include all local stations

Last week it was reported that Norway would be switching off all FM radio broadcasts as early as 2017. According to the Norsk Lokalradio Forbund, the Norwegian Local Radio Association, however, only 23 local radio stations in Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger, as well as major national broadcasters, are set to make the transition from analog to digital DAB broadcast anytime soon, while 200 local stations outside the cities will continue to broadcast in analog for the near future.

The government is allowing local stations to continue broadcasting on established FM networks during and after a technology shift so as to avoid extra costs on the stations and to guarantee regional content.

These 200 community radio stations, mainly located in small towns and villages around the country will be able to remain on FM for at least five more years, explains Mari Hagerup, communications manager at Digitalradio Norge. Twenty-three commercial community-stations in urban areas will have to transition to digital, 22 of which have already done so. “There has always been plans for FM-extension for smaller stations,” says Hagerup. “But the radio industry needs a future proof and fair playing field for all national and semi-national radio stations.”

The Government Statistical Bureau, Statistisk Sentralbyrå, reported recently that only 19 percent of listening is on broadcast DAB. The country’s digital listening figure of 56 percent comprises DVB-T, Internet radio as well as DAB platforms.

“But if we look at the DAB-only measurements in the research carried out by Digitalradio Norge, we can find that DAB constitutes 38 percent of all listeners,” asserts Hagerup. “The reason one poll shows 38 and another 19 is because of the different criteria, methods and population used in each survey. A harmonization of these factors would in fact give more or less comparable results.”

One example she pointed out is that Statistisk Sentralbyrå measures DAB listening among the entire population from the age of nine, while TNS Gallup measures all digital use among daily listeners. Seventy percent of Norway’s population is over the age of 15.