Norway is tuning out FM radio for good, and becoming the world’s first country to put a date on the switchover to digital-only transmissions.
With digital promising better sound quality, easier tuning, more stations and features as well as lower costs for broadcasters, Norway’s government has decided its FM airwaves will fall silent from January 11, 2017, starting in the far north above the Arctic Circle and gradually moving south.
“Nobody’s ever done this before and it’s quite a nervous time for everyone,” James Cridland, a British-based radio broadcasting consultant told AFP, adding that many other countries planning the change will be watching closely.
“Norway is testing this out for all of us,” he said.
After nearly a century of the analogue system, which revolutionised music listening with high-fidelity stereo sound compared to mono AM transmissions, the changeover to Digital Audio Broadcasting’s advanced version (DAB+) will render the country’s almost eight million radio sets obsolete.
Although 55 percent of Norwegian households already own at least one DAB radio, offering 22 crystal-clear channels with more on the way, some observers wonder whether definitively pulling the plug on FM will necessarily entice all its listeners to migrate to digital transmissions.
“It will be interesting to see whether they rush out and convert every single radio in their house to a DAB radio or to an online radio,” says Cridland. “Or whether they conclude that we don’t really need a radio anymore
because we’ve got Spotify, Wimp, Deezer and all of these music services, and we’ve got Internet.”
To further smooth the transition in a country where people tend to readily embrace new technologies, DAB was introduced in tandem with FM in 1995, with all the country’s main public and private stations adopting both systems… see more