Bernard Maissen, deputy director for the Federal Office of Communications, has announced that Switzerland’s radio programs “will only be available on the FM Band until the end of 2024 at the latest.”
OFCOM said in a release that Maissen based his decision on the radio industry’s existing agreement and legal provisions. As per studies available to OFCOM, at the end of June only 17% of listeners tuned into radio using FM.
According to the organization, in December 2014, the Digital Migration Working Group (AG DigiMig) stated that radio broadcasters intended to phase out VHF broadcasting by 2024.
It said that SRG and more than 80 percent of private radio stations agreed to this decision in 2015. And in October 2017, the Federal Council adopted the radio industry’s target and provided the legal framework for VHF switch off.
Maissen then announced the country would extend VHF radio licenses expiring in December 2019 until 2024, with the possibility of shortening the duration if the radio industry wishes.
Simultaneously, OFCOM would examine whether individual VHF transmitters in peripheral areas with insufficient DAB+ coverage could continue to operate for a limited period after 2024.
GfK research institute collects figures every six months on behalf of OFCOM and the AG DigiMig. Its results show the Swiss listening to an average of 65 minutes of digital radio per day out of 100 radio minutes.
This, says OFCOM, demonstrates a digital radio usage increase of 16% in three and a half years: from 49% in autumn 2015 to 65% in spring 2019. At the same time, VHF usage fell 16 percentage points from 51% to 35%.
While DAB+ has mainly replaced FM in the home and at work, the reports also reveal that FM is still more frequently used in car (56%). In spring 2019, listeners tuned into radio in the car via DAB+ for 38 out of 100 radio minutes. OFCOM points out, however, that the share of in-car DAB+ listeners is rising.
Findings also show that in the first half of 2019, the Swiss purchased some 136,400 DAB+ radios (excluding cars). According to GfK’s semi-annual surveys, consumers in Switzerland have bought a total of 4.3 million DAB+ devices since 2000.
Swiss Radio Day took place in Zurich on Aug. 29.