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Norway becomes 1st country to ban FM radio broadcasting

The decision of the Norweign government to switch over to digital broadcasting has become controversial.

Jan 12, 2017 17:36 IST
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Norway became the first country to ban FM radio broadcasting. The northern county of Nordland on 11 January 2017 stopped radio broadcasting using analogue frequencies.

The primary reason behind banning FM radio broadcasting is government’s endeavour to offer a better radio service to the whole population.

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Benefits of switching over to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) are –

• Compared to FM radio broadcasting, digital audio broadcasting offers a wider range of broadcasting options and greater sound quality.

• DAB allows for more channels on a given bandwidth, provides better reception and has significantly lower operating costs than traditional FM.

• At present, there are 22 national digital stations in Norway including 20 smaller ones. However, the FM spectrum has room for a maximum of only five national stations.

• As per an estimate of Norway’s culture ministry, the switch over will save 25 million US dollars a year.

• To a great extent, Norway decided to switch to DAB because of its inhospitable topography.

• It is expensive to provide FM signals to a small population scattered around a landscape that has a long and high mountains.

Background

• In Norway, Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) and Frequency Modulation (FM) have existed side-by-side since 1995.

• The intention to switch over to DAB was expressed by the Parliament in 2011. Consequently, a timetable was announced in 2015.

• Starting with Nordland, the switch over will take place county by county.

• Capital Oslo will turn off FM broadcasting in September 2017 and the process will be completed nationwide by December 2017.

Comment

• The transition to digital audio broadcasting has sparked debate in Norway.

• As per a poll conducted by the newspaper Dagbladet, around 2/3rds of the population are against the decision.

• However, the poll results were dismissed by Ole Jorgen Torvmark. He is the head of Digitalradio Norge.

• Digitalradio Norge is responsible for the switch. It is owned by public broadcaster NRK and commercial radio station P4.

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