In a first, Norway bids farewell to FM radio
January 9, 2017
“Video killed the radio star,” went the popular 1980 tune by the Buggles.
Turns out that was about 37 years premature, and blamed radio’s demise on the wrong form of media. It’s digital that’s killing FM radio, at least in Norway, which this year will become the first country to phase out this form of broadcasting entirely.
The Norwegian government decided six years ago to move toward shutting down FM, which stands for frequency modulation. The aim: Transition entirely to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), which the Digital Radio Norway Project argues offers better quality of transmission.
Parliament made the decision in part due to finances.
It’s not financially possible for the country of just 5 million to support both DAB and FM radio, and the latter’s transmission can be hindered by the beautiful landscape of the mountainous and fjord-filled country.
The government found that FM radio costs were eight times higher than digital and that more channels would be made available to residents with the move to DAB.
The shutdown begins on Wednesday, when the town of Bodoe will turn off its local network. Other cities will follow throughout the year. By the end of 2017, FM radio will be eliminated throughout the country.
Other countries joining the FM radio turnoff?
The question moving forward is whether other small countries will follow this path. Switzerland, for one, is on board – it has scheduled a transition away from FM for 2020.
However, the move has proven unpopular among Norwegian citizens, only 17 percent of whom support it, according to a recent newspaper poll. Other nations may want to see what happens in the aftermath before making a similar move.
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