Norway has become the first country in the world to start digital switchover (DSO) from FM to DAB+. National FM networks will be switched off region by region – starting in Nordland and progressing across the whole country throughout 2017. The final regions, Troms and Finnmark, will complete the process in December.
“Today’s digital switchover is a hugely important milestone for the radio industry,” said Patrick Hannon, President, WorldDAB. “The DAB platform is far more efficient than FM – offering both greater choice and clearer sound. With the start of the switch-over process, Norway is sending a clear signal across the world that the future of radio is digital.”
“This is a historic day for radio,” declared Ole Jørgen Torvmark, CEO of Digital Radio Norway. “We want to see radio continue its development on digital platforms, following the FM-technology that lifted radio from its beginning on AM. The Norwegian broadcasters are showing the digital possibilities today by launching five new radio stations, giving the listeners 30 national channels in total. The world’s first digital switchover is made possible through collaboration across Government, broadcasters and supply chain. Throughout 2017, the focus will be to help all listeners with the transition.”
Other international markets are following Norway’s lead. Switzerland is planning for switch-over to begin in 2020 and a major promotional campaign to raise awareness starts this year. The North-Italian region of South Tyrol will start its FM switch-off in 2017.
In the UK, the government has stated it will review the next steps for digital radio when its criteria for coverage and listening are met – expected to be achieved by the end of 2017. Germany and Denmark have both recently announced second national multiplexes, the Netherlands continues to make good progress, France has announced continued geographic expansion, Slovenia launched national services in 2016 and Belgium has announced plans for a federal DAB+ launch across Flanders and Wallonia in 2018. Outside of Europe, Australia continues to lead the way.
“A commitment to digital switchover has significant benefits for broadcasters, manufacturers and listeners,” stated Patrick Hannon. “It provides certainty on the future and allows broadcasters and radio manufacturers to plan and invest accordingly. For listeners, this greater investment and innovation in radio means more choice – today in Bodø consumers have access to 30 national stations on DAB+, compared to just five on FM.”
The Norwegian switchover applies to national radio stations and commercial local radio stations broadcasting in larger cities. Community radio stations and smaller local stations will continue to broadcast on FM for five more years after national switch off, at which point licences will be reviewed.