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From FM to digital radio

The digitization means that FM radio broadcasts in Norway will be switched off, except broadcasts from some smaller local radio stations.

The switchover takes place gradually over the course of 2017 and started in the county of Nordland in January. In April the switchover was completed in the counties of Trøndelag and Møre og Romsdal.

From 26 April NRK’s radio services are digitized in the counties of Telemark, Buskerud, Hedmark and Telemark.

To see when FM signals will be switched off in other counties, please see the Regional plan for FM switch-off. The brochure and regional switch-off plan can also be downloaded in column to the right (computer) or beneath (mobile/tablet).

 The swich-off plan

One of the main public concerns for the digital radio leap in Norway has been the coverage, especially in rural areas. The coverage for DAB+ in Norway is 99,7 percent of the population for the NRK's radio services and 92,8 percent for commercial national services (e.g. P4 and Radio Norge). Click here to read more about how coverage is measured.

During the switchover in Nordland, the broadcasters have monitored public feedback closely and improved coverage where possible. Most of of the feedback they received was related to the DAB switch-off on the 11th of January, when NRK services previously broadcasted in DAB switched to DAB+. This switch from DAB to DAB+ was implemented nationwide, and had an effect on all DAB/DAB+ receivers in Norway. The public feedback corresponds well with what the Norwegian Media Authority (NMA) experienced during the first switch-off. The NMA's role is to serve the public with neutral information about the switchover and to answer questions from the public.

A survey from TNS Kantar published in March 2017 shows that the switch-off in Nordland has resulted in an immidiate increase in the digital share of listening so far (86 % vs. 75 % before the switch-off), and an immidiate decline in overall radio listening (65 % vs. 74 % earlier).

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Digital radio listening

Once the switchover has been completed, radio listeners will have access to digital radio via several platforms, such as DAB+, internet, mobile telephones/apps and TV.

If you have an FM radio in your car and drive on Norwegian roads after the national FM signals have been switched off, you will only have access to local radio stations in areas with local FM broadcasts. An FM radio cannot receive DAB/DAB+ signals.

To be able to listen to the full DAB service in Norway, the car must be equipped with a DAB+ radio or an adapter (with DAB antenna).
There are different DAB+ solutions on the market, varying from simple plug-in adapters to fully built-in solutions. A key factor to good reception is an antenna of good quality and proper installation. 

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Background

In 2007, the Norwegian Parliament decided that radio in Norway were to be digitized. The conditions for FM switch-off for national radio stations was set in the 2011 White Paper, Report to the Storting No. 8 (2010-2011).
The following three conditions are absolute and had to be fulfilled regardless of when the switch-off were to take place:

  • Digital coverage for the NRK's radio services must correspond to that of NRK P1 on FM.
  • The multiplex that carries commercial national services (Riksblokka) must cover at least 90 per cent of the population.
  • The digital radio offer must represent added value to the listeners.

The above three conditions, as well as the two following conditions, had to be fulfilled by 1 January 2015 for the switch-off to take place in 2017:

  • Affordable and technically satisfactory solutions for in-car radio reception must be available.
  • At least 50 per cent of daily radio listeners must employ digital platforms, exclusively or in combination with FM radio.

In 2015 the Government decided that the conditions set in the White Paper were fulfilled and the switch-off date was set to 2017.

A key point in the digitization of radio has been that the process should be industry driven. This includes the choice of broadcast technology. The role of the authorities in the migration process has been merely of a facilitative nature. The main tasks of the Norwegian Media Authority (NMA) has been to:

  • Issue necessary licenses.
  • Provide the Ministry of Culture with annual reports regarding the fulfilment of the switch-off conditions.
  • Survey on the digital radio listening and knowledge of the digitization process in cooperation with the broadcasters.
  • Manage an information campaign directed at the general public.

The major broadcasters in Norway have been responsible for developing the national DAB networks. The broadcasters have chosen to use DAB technology (Eureka 147) to replace the current FM technology.

This standard comprises DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting), DAB+ and DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting). In Norway, most radio channels in the DAB networks will be transmitted using DAB+.

You can read more in the summary of Report No. 8 (2010 - 2011) to the Storting Norwegian proposal on the digitization of radio (pdf)

 

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