Norway becomes first country to turn off FM radio

Norway on Wednesday began turning off analogue FM radio, making it the first country in the world to fully transition to digital audio broadcasting (DAB), broadcasting officials said.

At 11.11 am (1011 GMT), the analogue FM broadcasting system in the northern county of Nordland was shut down, as public broadcaster NRK and other commercial broadcasters switched over to the DAB standard.

"It was a historic moment," NRK broadcasting chief Thor Gjermnund Eriksen said, noting that Norway was the first country in the world to make such a transition on a nationwide basis.

The move will ultimately see both state and commercial broadcasters leave FM radio for DAB, which is said to be more robust and use less power to operate, while offering more channels and better audio quality than Norway's ageing FM broadcast equipment.

Norway's topography with many small communities spread across mountains and valleys, difficult to reach with FM radio, has also been cited for the switch.

Eriksen observed that "for the first time everyone in Norway will have an equal offering from NRK," regardless if they live in the capital Oslo or the municipality of Rost that is part of the Lofoten archipelago off northern Norway.

Despite the promised improvements of DAB, a poll in December found that a majority of Norwegians were against fully shutting off FM radio.

The survey of over 1,000 people commissioned by daily VG showed that 55.5 per cent of Norwegians were against the switch to DAB, while 25.1 per cent were in favour and 19.1 per cent undecided.

In future listeners will need a DAB radio set, smartphone or computer to listen to broadcasts, while many motorists will need to convert their analogue car radios.

Parliament approved the transition in 2011, and the government said the transition was to be completed by December 13 in the country of about 4.2 million.

The government estimated the transition would provide savings of 180 million kroner (21 million dollars) in the period 2017-2019.

Last update: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 13:40
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