Monday 27 February 2017

Local FM Radio Upbeat As National Radio Shifts to DAB in Norway

Reduced listening for public radio from start of FM switch-off.
NRK claims DAB is a success.

Since the closure of the FM network began in Nordland county February 8 and later continued in Trøndelag, Møre and Romsdal NRK now noticeably has fewer listeners, as measured in week 7, with a daily share of 45.7%. It is far less than in the corresponding time in 2016, when it reached 48.6%. The closure will continue gradually throughout the country and ends in December. Local radio continues on FM (except in the largest cities). Continued widespread skepticism and irritation among Norwegian radio listeners, who are more vulnerable to change than in the other countries which are introducing DAB radio.

The two commercial networks (owned by Swedish MTG and British Bauer) will not close its FM transmitters in central Norway until April. For now P4 is stable at 19.4% support, while Radio Norway has actually gone up to 12.5%.

Several local radio stations reported more listeners and more attention for FM after closing of the nationwide channels. While NRK lost listeners. In Nordland, reported Radio 3 Bodø an increase of the number of listeners by 40% and more attention on the issue.

Difficult to say something about listening figures. We have received very positive feedback that we should not turn off the FM and more people say they have no plans to invest in DAB in their cars, says Stian Bay at FM Molde.

Nea Radio, which also had to put on the broadcasts are very pleased so far, says manager Stian Elverum. He tells of a continued sales of bingo and a general positive effect in the local community: With FM, we see feedback with new listeners, says Elverum to He also says that the number of listeners online for Nea Radio has risen sharply in recent weeks, while NRK is closing its FM transmitters.

Most local radio stations continue to broadcast on FM to at least 2022. Any political decision what will happen later with FM in Norway has not been taken yet. Local radio on FM has a strong market position in most populated parts in Norway. In Rogaland fylke local radio had 19 % listening share in 2016.

According to NRK DAB is a success. Øyvind Vasaasen at NRK says that the public service company has been successful with a comprehensive information strategy.  According to NRK, the criticism against the DAB now subsided, but this statement is not supported by the continuing intense and angy debate on FM closure in social media and in the daily press. It is almost impossible to find any positive reactions to the DAB introduction here. The only positive news about the transition is generated by the resourceful NRK and the DAB lobby organisation Digitalradio Norge AS.

It is not only about lack of coverage and inferior sound quality, but the popular anger is
fueled by introducing DAB by coercion and without any prior analysis of demand. Politicians - especially from the Conservatives and the Labour Party - are accused in many postings to be in the hands of NRK and the DAB lobby. And not listening to the citizens.

There are also campaigns against the FM switch-off. Here is a bumpersticker ("My car is 100 % DAB free. Listen to local radio on FM and national radio on mobile online.  You won't need DAB!") >>>
There are reports of numerous problems with the DAB in both areas now switching-off FM broadcasts as well as the upcoming areas. It is mainly about poor coverage with many abrupt interruptions or "dropouts" in a way that was previously not experienced receiving FM. In addition, many note that the sound quality is not what NRK once promised. In the northernmost county of Finnmark no one who believes in DAB. Radio is like a flashing light drpping out all the time, says retired Kjell Vidar Ryeng to Dagbladet. He believes that the Norwegian DAB transition is out of control. -  NRK will switch-off its FM transmitters in Finnmark and Troms in December.

Why Norwegians have to suffer more than others from the shift to DAB radio?
Norway is the only country in the world that has taken the risk with an overnight switch of nationwide FM to DAB. But listeners now discover that the DAB system is not sufficient for everyone.

In other countries with DAB broadcasting still retain full coverage FM networks. When DAB reception malfunction for car drivers they shift so easily, sometimes automatically, to the same program on FM. When the NRK DAB signal drops off the Norwegian listeners have the choice of finding the public radio online or shift listening to local FM radio - or Swedish FM radio if they are located within border areas. (60 % of Norwegians are).

Also read
Framåt för lokalradio när rikskanaler går över till DAB i Norge (in Swedish)
DAB-debatt i nordisk media (Newspaper articles about FM and DAB - in Norwegian, Danish and Swedish)

Local Radio Demanding FM Frequencies Left By National Channels Going DAB
Start of FM Switch-off in Norway Reveals DAB Vulnerability