Thursday 24 August 2017

Demands For a Review of the Political Decisions Regarding DAB in Norway

A DAB lobby is accused of setting the political agenda and providing all the facts
As NRK switches off their FM transmitters by the regions, citizens resistance to DAB +

switchover has increased. An increasing number of people question the ten year decision-making process that led the politicians to the internationally unique decision to close the FM network. The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has now received a request for review of the parliament (Stortinget) decision on the FM closure.

The letter criticizes the transition to DAB radio in terms of preparedness due to poor coverage, lack of analysis in the field of socioeconomics and environmental and commercial impacts. The decision is said to be based on incorrect information.

It is argued that the factsheets presented in Stortinget and for the authorities has been delivered by the DAB actors NRK and Digitalradio Norge AS. It is questioned how neutral this is. The OAG is asked to examine close links between Digitalradio Norge AS, NRK and the company Talkmanngruppen DA and Sahaga AS, which imports DAB radio sets for the Norwegian market.

It is worrying if persons in organizations who have advised the Storting also sit in positions in companies that have direct financial interests in such a decision. We therefore ask the Office of the Auditor General to investigate whether these links may have resulted in Stortinget has not received neutral information and thus making its decision on an incorrect basis.

The letter is signed by six persons on behalf of members of the Facebook Groups "Yes to FM" (today 1090 members) and "No Enforcement of DAB" (2935 members). A similar letter is adressed to the Control and Constitution Committee in the parliament.

Digitalradio Norge AS is a jointly owned company by the public broadcaster NRK and the Swedish media company MTG which owns Radio P4 in Norway. Digitalradio Norge AS has a central function for the lobbying activities of DAB in Norway and manages the website.

The Swedish National Audit Office in Sweden reviewed 2014-2015 the proposal to replace FM with DAB +. The outcome was very negative for DAB and contributed to the fact that the government and an unanimous parliament rejected the proposal February 2016.

The DAB lobby has set the agenda for decisions in the Stortinget

Already ten years ago, the Norwegian government was aware of the influence of the DAB lobby. This can be read from its report in a bill to the Storting (STM No. 30 2006/07 page 17):

The report "Digital Radio in Norway" was widely discussed in spring 2006. The majority of those who stated were largely in agreement with the work group's assessments. Those of the critics who criticized the report's conclusions pointed specifically to the composition of stakeholders with self-interest in promoting DAB technology and that the recommendation to use DAB as the main platform for digital radio harmonized badly with many other European countries Chosen to await the situation regarding Choice of radio digitalization standard. - -

This shold have been a warning sign, but politicians decided early that the choice of new digital technology would be "actor-driven". The parliament has later given support to the actors, that is to say. NRK and others in the DAB lobby, by eliminating crucial competition the national FM networks as well as prohibiting commercial local radio on FM in the major cities.

The fact that the state is forcing out local FM radio has been regarded by critics as a market-destructive measure and has been notified to the ESA European Competition Authority. However, the Ministry of Culture has, to date, managed to get out of the grip by lengthy and partially classified statements to the ESA.

The three DAB propositions in the Storting during the ten-year period are almost exclusively based on factual bases that have Norwegian and European DAB lobby as direct or indirect sources. 

Also read
Two out of three Norwegians are dissatisfied with the DAB radio
Will DAB Kill Radio? Continued Listening Decline in Norway  

Continued Local Radio on FM Welcome by Advertisers in Norway
National Audit Devastating for DAB Radio Introduction in Sweden
The Illusions of the DAB Radio World Are Worrying