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Sweden Suspends Digital Radio Transition

The country remains open to DAB+, but for now will stick with FM

The Swedish government is pumping the brakes on its planned switch from FM to digital DAB+ broadcasting. In a recent article in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, Swedish Minister for Culture and Democracy Alice Bah Kuhnke writes that there isn’t enough support to justify a transition to digital at this point in time.

The original plan proposed to the Sweden government was to launch DAB+ in late 2016 with 2022 (or 2024 at the latest) being the cut off date for all FM broadcasts. Now, the government will follow the international development of DAB, particularly with Norway who will start shutting down its larger FM networks in 2017, to see if a transition to digital radio makes sense in the future.

Among the reasons Kuhnke listed for sticking with FM was the fact that 10 million FM receivers would have to be replaced, reports that DAB networks wouldn’t have the same coverage area as current FM networks, and concerns from Swedish defense as regards its disaster response and being able to disseminate critical information in an emergency in an effective way.

“The government’s view is that our present radio solution, the FM network, is not vitiated by such defects that a move (to DAB+) is justified,” said Kuhnke in her article. “The future of radio is central to our whole society… The government will now follow the trend for the future of radio listening vigilantly and will continue to be careful to have broad parliamentary support for media policy.”