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From FM to digital radio

The switchover started in the county of Nordland in January and was completed on December 13 when the broadcasters switched off their FM broadcasts in the counties of Troms and Finnmark.

The FM-switch-off was completed according to the Regional Plan. 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

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.

 

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Digital radio listening

Radio listeners 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, 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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Stable development in national radio listening in 2018

Radio listening was expected to increase towards the end of 2019 and then stabilise. The latest listening figures from the Norwegian Media Authority, however, do not support this expectation. – The development in 2018 has been relatively stable, says Mari Velsand, Director General at the Norwegian Media Authority.

October 15th 2018

The listening figures show a clear decline in daily radio listeners and listening time on national channels in recent years, especially compared to the year prior to the FM switch-off. The population share of daily listeners for national channels has dropped from 63.2 percent in 2017 to 55.9 percent so far in 2018. In 2016, prior to the FM switch-off, the percentage of daily listeners was 67.6 percent. The quarterly development in listening time has been relatively stable so far in 2018, averaging 72 minutes of daily listening. However, this is a decline compared to previous years as daily listening time was 79 minutes in 2017 and 85 minutes in 2016.

– It will be interesting to follow developments in the radio market in 2019 to see whether listening habits change, says Velsand.

Niche channels consolidate their position

After the FM switch-off in 2017, the trend experienced by the main channels of NRK, the P4 group and Bauer Media has been a decline in the number of radio listeners, while the niche channels have increased the number of radio listeners. Listening figures from the third quarter of 2018 show that the niche channels have consolidated their position vis-a-vis the main channels, and that this pattern appears to have stabilised. The population share of daily listeners for the main channels has remained comparatively stable over the past six months, with a listener share of 43.7 percent in March and 43.2 percent in September. The niche channels experienced a slight decrease from 30.3 to 29.3 percent during the same time period. Compared to the third quarter of 2016, before the FM swith-off, the main channels have in the third quarter of 2018 experienced a decline in daily listeners of 18.7 percentage points, while the niche channels have increased their share by 8.1 percentage points.

From March to September this year, NRK experienced a decrease in daily listeners of 2 percentage points, while P4 increased its share by 0.8 percent and Bauer remained in the same position.

In the third quarter of 2810, NRK experienced a decrease in the number of daily listeners equivalent to 11 percentage points compared to the third quarter of 2016. During this same time period, the P4 group lost 4.9 percent of its daily listeners, while Bauer Media reduced its share by 2.8 percentage points.

NRK experiences the greatest loss in listening time since FM swith-off

Listening time for the national channels has been relatively stable so far in 2018. The listening time for the main channels was 48 minutes in March and 47 minutes in September, while listening time for the niche channels was 26 minutes in March and 24 minutes in September. Compared to the third quarter of 2016, there has been a clear decrease in listening time of 22 minutes for the main channels, while the niche channels have experienced an increase in listening time of 9 minutes during this same time period.

With regard to the various radio groups, NRK has had a decline of 3 listening minutes from March to September this year (from 51 to 48 minutes), while the P4 group experienced an increase (from 16 to 17 minutes). The number of listening minutes for Bauer Media dropped by 1 minute (from 8 to 7 minutes) during this time period.

From the third quarter in 2016 to the third quarter in 2018, NRK lost 9 minutes, the P4 group 2 minutes and Bauer Media 1 minute of listening time.

The listener figures presented by the Norwegian Media Authority were prepared by Kantar Media. The quarterly listening figures for local radio will be published around 20 October 2018.

Norwegian Media Authority PPM figures for September 2018

Kantar Media radio listening figures for September 2018 (Excel)

Contact Line Langnes or Nina Bjerke for more information.

Main development in national radio listening by third quarter of 2018

Development in population share of daily listeners
- Last two years: 64.8 percent in Q3 2016 - 53.7 percent in Q3 2018
- Last year: 60.0 percent in Q3 2017 - 53.7 percent in Q3 2018
- Last six months: 57.4 percent in March - 56.3 percent in September

Development in listening time
- Last two years: 84 minutes in Q3 2016 - 72 minutes in Q3 2018
- Last year: 77 minutes in Q3 2017 - 72 minutes in Q3 2018
- Last six months: 74 minutes in March - 72 minutes in September

The listener numbers (PPM - Portable People Meter) reflect the number of people exposed to or who listen to specific radio channels

For more information, please contact
Director General Mari Velsand   
Senior Advisor Line Langnes line  

 

Overview of listening figures from NMA - March 2018

Overview weekly radio coverage from Kantar Media (excel)

Overview of listening figures from NMA - January 2018

Overview of listening figures from NMA - 4th quarter 2017

Press release 3/ 2018: New Listening figures for local radio shows increase

Press release 2/ 2018: The decline in radio listening on national channels has stopped

Pressrelease 1/2018: Continuous decrease in radio listening for national channels – but increase for NRK in January

Pressrelease 4/2017: Local Radio Listening Up by 20 Percent

Pressrelease 3/2017: Significant Change in Radio Listening Habits after Digital Switchover

Pressrelease 2/2017: Stable Radio Listening Figures since September

Pressrelease 1/2017: Decline in Radio Listening Figures after the Digital Switchover