Thursday 7 September 2017

Public Revolt Against DAB Radio in Norway Intensifying

Enforced technology change is being questioned by citizens. Can listeners trust the public broadcaster?
The opposition to replace FM for the national networks with digital DAB+ technology was apparent already a few years before the final decision of the Storting 2016.  As the FM shutdown is currently in progress an analysis indicates that public radio NRK has reached a precarious position.  
Appearing at international conferences publi broadcaster NRK and its lobbying arm Digitalradio Norge AS is trying to hide the negative facts of the Norwegian DAB fiasco.

The opinion against the FM switch-off is widespread in the newspapers' newspaper editorials, chronicles, comments, and expert statements as well as in social media. The listeners' critique has been devastating. In short, the anger of being forced into a technology that you experience has major shortcomings in terms of range, sound quality, manageability and security. A system switch that you never asked for and now also have to pay for.

Opinion polls have so far shown that a clear majority of the Norwegians are against the FM closing. Many people are now aware that Norway is so far alone in this world about this decision. One example is a readers vote in the Nettavisen (September 3). 72% of 2,795 voted that they did not intend to buy a DAB receiver.

In the daily press, the DAB initiative has been defended solely by representatives of NRK and others with their own interests in DAB. NRK's unsightly and biased attitude to the issue is likely to be a serious credibility issue for public service. Norway's most important news agency is also the heaviest player of the DAB lobby. In addition, NRK, together with the Swedish media group MTG, owns Digitalradio Norge AS, which via its website distributes fake news and being regarded as a ”troll factory”.

Social media is questioning how the entire process since the first Storting decision 2011 has been discussed. What interests were behind the agenda for the political decisions as well as the basis of the facts on which decisions are based. It has also been requested in a letter to the Office of the Auditor General and the Storting's constitutional committee to review the decisions made by government and authorities.

The nationwide radio companies with NRK in the lead that leave the FM band region by region now experience a totally reduced number of listeners despite the increased number of channels.. To boost interest in DAB radio, NRK and the commercial channels (owned by Bauer and MTG) donate large amounts of DAB receivers, among other things via listeners competitions. It has been noted links between people working in NRK, Digitalradio Norge AS and companies that import DAB receivers.

A large part of Norway's passenger cars, buses and lorries do not have DAB radio. It has proven to be a precious story to install DAB in most of the cars. In addition, many so-called DAB adapters and antenna installations work poorly in cars. Many Norwegians have found that a better alternative to replacing the FM radio, especially by car, is mobile broadband (4G/LTE) via smartphone that provides greater diversity and better sound quality than DAB+. If you reamin on the FM band you will find Norwegian local radio as well as cross border FM broadcasts from Swedish public radio.

In addition, it has now been found that the LG smartphone with built-in DAB+ developed and promoted by Norwegian interests and launched in 2016 is not a success. It is hard to find any electronic chain in Norway that sells this smartphone.

In social media, it can be noted that the DAB negative opinion increases in step with the
"We will switch-off DAB"
national FM network switch-off region by region. On Facebook, there are several groups and communities collectively gathering more than 30,000 people. The largest group is now ”No for forced introduction of DAB#, now more than 3,500 members. Members of this group will now demonstrate against DAB among others using a fire truck.

Politicians in the Stortinget (the Parliament) have not yet responded openly to the revolt of the people. Probably this is due to the fact that the September 11 election is too close. However, some observers expect that ”the bubble will bursts" later in the fall. Then the question if the Stortinget simply has made an erroneous decision could be put on the agenda by some political parties. An opinion pressure increase is also being expected twhen the metropolitan area is affected by the closure of the NRK national FM network. This will start on September 20 immediately after the election. Target areas are Vestfold, Østfold, Oslo and Akershus.

Norwegian newspaper articles about DAB and FM (in Norwegian)

Also read
Smartphone World Embraces FM, Leaving DAB Behind
Demands For a Review of the Political Decisions Regarding DAB in Norway
World's Fastest Mobile Network Marginalize DAB Radio
Two Out of Three Norwegians Are Dissatisfied With DAB Radio