Why is Norway switching off its FM radio?

Switching to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) offers better sound quality and more radio channels. Scrapping FM will also save the government about 250 million kronners (29 million USD) a year.

Photo by: Getty Images
Photo by: Getty Images

A 1964 portable radio.

When are they shutting it down?

On Wednesday, the northern Norwegian city of Bodoe will shut down its FM radio network. By the end of the year all national FM radio broadcasts will be shut in favor of DAB.

Norway will be the first country in the world to shut down FM radio after it was launched in the United States in 1945.

The government decided on the switch-off in 2011.

Worker Ino Andre Nilsen shows an adapter that can be plugged into a car FM radio in an Expert City electronics shop in Oslo, Norway January 4, 2017. (Reuters)

What are the obstacles?

Sixty-six percent of Norwegians oppose switching off FM. Just 17 percent are in favour, a poll published by the daily newspaper Dagbladet found.

About 2 million cars in Norway are not equipped with DAB receivers, which Ole Joergen Torvmark, head of Digital Radio Norway believes, is the biggest challenge.

A good digital adapter for an FM car radio costs about 1500 Kroners (175 USD).

Switching to digital adapter in car radios is one of the challenges people will have to deal with. (Getty Images)

Why are people unhappy about the switch off?

Critics said the government is rushing the move and many people may miss emergency warnings that are usually broadcast via FM radio.

Others argue the cost of acquiring a digital adaptor is too high.

"We are simply not ready for this yet," Ib Thomsen, an MP from the Progress Party, a partner in the Conservative-led government, told Reuters.

"There are 2 million cars on Norwegian roads that don't have DAB receivers, and millions of radios in Norwegian homes will stop working when the FM net is switched off. So there is definitely a safety concern," he said.

Are other countries planning to do the same?

Switzerland plans to switch off FM radio in 2020 while Denmark and Britain are also considering an end to FM radio broadcasts in the near future.


TRTWorld and agencies