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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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More information about the switchover

Please contact the Norwegian Media Authority at digitalradio@medietilsynet.no if you have any questions about the switchover in Norway.

You can also visit our website in Norwegian with more information.

Press release-messages about the switchover:

Digital radio at normal levels after FM switch off (September 15th, 2017, Radio.no)

NRK FM to be switched off in eastern Norway (September 15th, 2017, NTB)

Preparing for a smooth radio switch-over (April 24th, 2017, NTB)

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Significant Change in Radio Listening Habits after Digital Switchover

Collectively, the niche channels from NRK, the P4 Group and Bauer Media have seen a pronounced increase in radio listening in 2017 and are closing in on the five traditional national channels – NRK Channels P1, P2 and P3 along with P4 and Radio Norge. This is shown by listening figures presented by the Norwegian Media Authority.

– The numbers show that radio listening habits are changing. Everything points to the radio digitization being decisive for this development, thanks to the expansion of listening opportunities, says Director Mari Velsand at the Norwegian Media Authority.

From December 2016 to December 2017 the traditional channels have seen a decrease in daily radio listening from 60,2 % to 42,1 %, while the niche channels from NRK, the P4 Group and Bauer Media have increased their daily listening from 26,4 % to 36,0 %. The difference between the two groups of radio channels has never been this small.

Listening time has also changed. From December 2016 to the same month last year, there was an increase of 11 minutes for the niche channels, compared to a decrease of 21 minutes for the traditional channels.

– The listening is now spreading across several channels and what we call traditional channels are losing listeners to the niche channels. All indications are that this development is a direct consequence of radio digitization, which has given the listeners more channels to choose from, says Velsand.

10 Listening Minutes Disappeared in 2017

Even though listeners are spending more time listening to niche channels, radio listening in total declined last year. From December 2016 to December 2017, listening time on national radio declined with 10 minutes, from 84 to 74 minutes. NRK has seen the largest decrease in listening minutes, while the P4 Group and Bauer Media are stable throughout the switch-off year.

Daily listening has decreased 8,9 pp. from December 2016 to December 2017 for the national radio channels.

Radio Listening Decline in December

The digital switchover was completed in December last year through a switch-off of commercial radio channels in the Oslo area on December 8 and a joint switch-off of all national FM broadcasts in the two northernmost counties of Troms and Finnmark on December 13.

– Listening figures indicate an impact from the two FM switch-offs on the radio listening in December. There has been a stable development in radio listening in the autumn of 2017 but in December we see a pronounced decline, says Velsand. She points out that this was expected. – It seems natural for the radio listening to decline in a month where we have two FM switch-offs.

The daily listening on national channels decreased from 62,2 % to 59,4 % from November to December last year. Listening time in the same period was reduced by three minutes, from 77 to 74 minutes.

Listening figures presented by the NMA today are produced by Kantar Media. Most local radios are not covered by this PPM data. Listening figures for local radio for the fourth quarter will be presented later this January. A status report from Kantar Media shows an increase of 10 % for local radio from the third quarter of 2016 to the third quarter of 2017.

Main Points in the Radio Listening Survey

 (pp. = percentage points)

  • Daily listening to national radio decreases by 8,9 pp. from December 2016 to December 2017
  • The niche channels had 36,0 % daily listening while traditional channels had 42,1 % daily listeners. In December, these two radio groups were closer in size than ever before.
  • Traditional channels include the NRK channels P1, P2 and P3, in addition to P4 and Radio Norway. The niche channels include all other NRK, P4 and Bauer Media channels, for instance P1+, P7 Klem and Radio Rock (see the NMA report for full channel list).
  • Listening time on national channels decreased from 84 minutes in December 2016 to 74 minutes in 2017, a ten minutes decline in one year.All channel groups see a decline in the share of daily listening from November to December.

Overview of listening figures from NMA

PPM-data from Kantar Media

Status report for radio broadcasting from Kantar Media

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

Pressrelease 2/2017: Stable Radio Listening Figures since September