As of Wednesday, 13th of December, 2017, Norway has become the first country in the world to stop broadcasting radio in FM frequency. The transition was initiated at the beginning of the year, on January 11. While not without obstacles, the transition has been done on time and is considered a success. Here’s more about why Norway switches to digital radio and what are the potential obstacles to this move.
Digitalisation and technology advancement is no strange thing to such a technically demanding industry as radio coverage. While met with a certain level of criticism, the advantages of switching to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), speak for themselves. As reported by the local Norwegian news in English, the first and the most obvious advantage is the increase of audio quality. Digital audio signal is miles ahead of analog audio, that has been broadcasted and remained unchanged for more than a century. The increased audio quality, accompanied by nearly 8 times reduced cost and increased function availability makes for a compelling argument for the nation-wide radio digitalization. However, as with all changes of such scale, there’s quite a lot of criticism about it.
Difficulties with the move to DAB, surprisingly, are not related to the actual implementation of the technology, but rather with the public opinion and difficulties it could cause to an individual. As reported by the local news, there are claims that DAB has insufficient coverage and is not able to service the whole country just yet. It is however considered a temporary issue, the signal extension is a quick problem to fix. Another issue reported by Digitalradio Norge (DRN), is that the individual cost of a digital radio receiver can reach up to 100-200 EUR. In addition to that, recent data by DRN shows that only just under half of the surveyed drivers (49 percent) are able to listen to DAB in their cars.
While a significant drop in listener ratings was observed when DAB was first implemented in certain regions, the tendency is that the listener levels returned back to former ratings after a while. A simple period of adjustment. Will other countries be ready to take the same path based on the experience that Norway has provided? In fact, yes. Several other countries, such as Great Britain, Switzerland and Denmark are to start the implementation process in the upcoming years.
What do you think about radio digitalization? Feel free to let us know your thoughts anytime!