Norway's controversial radio switch-off


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Other countries are considering switching off analogue radio

Norway will start switching off its FM radio network next week, in a controversial move that will be closely watched by other nations.

Critics have said that the government is rushing the move, with one poll from newspaper Dagbladet suggesting 66% of Norwegians oppose it.

Experts argue that the change needs to happen because digital radio can carry more channels and has clearer sound.

Switzerland, Denmark and the UK are also considering a switch-off.

The shutdown of the FM (frequency modulation) network will start in the northern city of Bodo on 11 January. By the end of the year, all national FM broadcasts will end.

Cars will be the biggest challenge in Norway, where there are an estimated 2 million vehicles that are not equipped with digital audio broadcasting (DAB) receivers. Users are being told to buy adapters which cost 1,500 Norwegian kroner (£140).

“Norwegian politicians have decided to make 15 million FM radios in Norway completely useless,” digital media expert Jan Thoresen wrote in Dagbladet earlier this year, adding: “That’s a bad idea”.

Norway’s transition to DAB radio will be closely watched by others considering a similar move, including the UK.


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What is the digital radio switchover?

Like the television switchover in 2012, the radio switch will see a change in the source from an analogue platform (AM and FM) to a digital one.

It means listeners will need a device that can pick up a digital signal.

In the UK, there are currently three national digital multiplexes (the platforms that hold stations) – one for the BBC and two commercial.

FM will probably still be used for local and community radio stations, although Ofcom has trialled some small-scale digital radio multiplexes to bring DAB to these places too.

DAB isn’t the only way of listening to digital radio. Internet radio offers more stations, including ones that are in other areas and international stations. Some DAB radios can also stream internet radio so listeners can access podcasts and overseas radio stations.

The UK switchover won’t happen until digital listening reaches 50% of all radio listening and national DAB coverage is comparable to FM, the government has said.

On the current trajectory, that critical mass may be reached in the UK in 2018, meaning switchover is unlikely to happen before 2020.

Source: Which




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