FM Radio Is Officially Getting Shut Down In Norway

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Norway is about to become the first country in the world to shut down FM radio.  Are other countries next?

Forget about AM Radio.  That’s long gone.  Over in Norway, the once-proud FM Radio is now getting permanently decommissioned.  Forever.

The process starts tomorrow (Wednesday) in the northern part of the Scandinavian country.  By the end of the year, FM radios will be useless across Norway.  That is, unless you’re catching border stations in Sweden (or maybe Denmark).

The decision was finalized last year by the Norwegian Ministry of Culture, based on a number of determinations.  The biggest reason is that Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) is viewed as a completely superior broadcast technology.  And in a rugged, thinly-populated country like Norway, the advantages are particularly pronounced.

DAB and FM Radio have actually coexisted since 1995, with many receivers adept at catching either stream.  But DAB enables far more bandwidth and more stations, not to mention cleaner transmissions into rocky, mountainous, fjord-filled terrain.

So why aren’t Norwegians happy about this?

Makes sense from a technology standpoint.  But an astounding 66% of residents are resistant to the move.  According to a poll conducted by Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, just 17% of denizens support the hard transition.  And the biggest gripe is that the transition imposes serious replacement costs on listeners.

DAB channels can only be received by an one-third of cars in Norway.  The other two-thirds are where the problem lies.

Indeed, broadcasters will enjoy simpler infrastructure costs.  Unfortunately, listeners now face hundreds in upgrade costs.  “It’s completely stupid.  I don’t need any more channels,” Norwegian resident Eivind Sethov, 76, told the AFP.  “It’s far too expensive.  I’m going to wait until the price of adaptors comes down before getting one for my car.”

But for those that want more variety, it’s a nice shift.  FM radio technology can only support 5 national stations, while DAB can easily handle 50 or more.

Meanwhile, other countries are also supporting both formats.  But it’s unclear if FM radio will get the boot in larger markets.  Stateside, DAB or ‘HD Radio’ certainly exists, but its popularity remains marginal compared to mainstream FM transmissions.  In places like Switzerland, Denmark, and even the United Kingdom, a ‘cold turkey’ switch is increasingly possible.

Top image by darkday (CC by 2.0).

4 Responses

  1. Jim Griffin

    The difference between DAB and HD is instructive. DAB is truly digital, global and innovative technology that empowers competition and new voices. HD is not high-def, only “hybrid” digital (32kbps) and extinguishes competition from the start, requiring an existing FM transmitter and so is limited to existing players. Little wonder it long ago lost the war against satellite radio, which subsidized adoption; HD chose instead to “tax” chip use with a premium price added to devices, resulting in much lower sales and slower adoption.

  2. Top Secret

    Some countries use DAB and others DAB+
    DAB+ being the new of the transmission technologies and with improved capacity and quality.

    If the FM (and AM) bands are abandoned by State and Commercial broadcasters then this spectrum should either be made available to private individuals and groups to have affordable access to the airwaves.

    Alternatively, AM and FM could become popular “Pirate” bands and who knows..
    the listening public just might love it !!

  3. lochness

    And with digital radio closing out analogue, nothing will be free or democratic within its context ever again. You will be beholden to pay for everything, using it or not. In the event of an emergency are you going to have any critical information source?

    Oh but you get so much more variety. Are you listening to 150 stations? Local radio is where it’s at–does not need digital exclusively.

    If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

  4. Flash Gordon

    Oh here we go Europe is causing trouble again for the rest of the world!