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Sweden Debates Digital Migration

The country’s differing views on DAB become apparent as parliament asks the government to monitor international developments

STOCKHOLM — On March 7, the Swedish Public servicerådet issued a paper entitled “The Facts Behind the DAB Radio Failure in Sweden,” which reveals the organization’s point of view on the present and future of DAB digital radio in the country.

According to its website, Public servicerådet, which was founded in 2011, “aims to safeguard the Swedish public service television and radio, contribute to a broader freedom of expression and promote democratic development.” Funded by membership fees only, it claims to be independent of political parties and have no connections to any authorities, companies or organizations.

The paper outlines how in June 2015, following an extensive consultation process, the Swedish government scrapped the digital radio migration proposal submitted by the government’s advisory board. This came after the scheme received a generally negative response from some authorities, academics and organizations, and on the heels of Riksrevisionen’s (the country’s National Audit Office) presentation of a critical report about the government’s process for a proposed DAB+ transition.

The council’s recently published paper points out that “The case was formally closed by a unanimous parliament decision taken on Feb. 3, 2016, confirming the government assessment of the Riksrevisionen’s report.” Therefore, it continues, “It is quite impossible to expect that this (DAB) technology will ever be relevant for future broadcasting in Sweden.”

According to the Sveriges riksdag’s (the Swedish parliament) website, the decision taken last summer to pause digital radio development in Sweden remains unaltered. However, it is possible for this decision to be reviewed, depending on the development of digital radio in the rest of Europe. “As the government argues, it cannot be ruled out that the issue of the digitization of terrestrial radio may arise again in the future. The parliament therefore believes that it is good that the government intends to follow international developments,” it states.

Patrick Hannon, president of WorldDAB believes that while the situation in Sweden may delay DAB rollout there, it is unlikely to affect the overall momentum of a digital transition across Europe. “DAB digital radio is expanding rapidly across Europe. The Swedish decision not to proceed with DAB+ at this time runs against this trend, but is unlikely to have broader consequences,” he said. “Both the Swedish government (last year) and the parliamentary committee (this year) have emphasized the importance of monitoring international developments. There will be a particular focus on its neighbor Norway, which is switching off FM signals in 2017. The door for DAB+ in Sweden is not totally closed.”

— Davide Moro

Related: FM Switch Off Plans Shift From Country to Country

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