Monday 19 February 2018

Government Party Supporting Local FM Radio in Norway

Jensen, Solberg & Grande (photo: Dagbladet)
National channels now only available on DAB. But many listeners will stay on FM or go online.
An increasing number of Norwegian radio listeners now prefer local radio on FM instead of national DAB. This is while 1 million cars still lack DAB radio. The Progress Party (Frp) in Oslo has now adopted at a resolution that local radio should continue on FM, even after 2021. According to sources, the resolution will probably be adopted at the forthcoming national party congress. The party is in charge of the finance ministry.

Frp will also repeal the imposed local radio restrictions should be repealed. Same with the revenue limits and the ban on co-operative distribution. Frp in Oslo believes the closure has cost the listeners about NOK 20 billion, and many cannot afford to install DAB in their cars. In December 2017 local commercial radio stations were forced by the media authority to stop their FM broadcasts. In spite of only representing only 4% of the radio listeners. Nevertheless, the purpose was to prevent competition for the major commercial DAB channels; P4 and Radio Norway.

The non-commercial local radio stations are licensed until 2022. Few of these have the economy to go DAB. But there are now a lot of frequencies for FM broadcasting, which according to international agreements cannot be used for other purposes than OTA radio. Local stations have their own transmitters, so there will be no cost to society, according to Frp.

Frp point the new government political platform which opens for maintaining media diversity and the possibility of alternative and publicly funded public broadcasting.

If we allow further broadcasting on FM, we will ensure both media diversity, provide local news production, ensure that the stations can stand on their own financially without public support, and ensure they can compete with NRK and other channels.

According to the resolution, the party at its national meeting will urge Fri parliamentarians and government members to work for

- Available FM frequencies should be able for local radio
- The transmitter power of FM stations can be increased significantly
- The revenue limits for FM stations to be canceled
- The ban on retransmitting and cooperative networking should be suspended
- Current FM licenses will be extended beyond 2022
- New local actors are allowed on FM

The new Norwegian government, led by Mrs Erna Solberg (Høyre), consists of three parties; Høyre (conservatives), Frp (Progress party) and Venstre (Liberals). Mrs Trine D Grande (V), now the new Minister of Culture, expressed doubts at the 2011 Stortinget decision of the transition to DAB. Any political decision on what will happen after local radio licenses on FM expires 2022 has yet to be taken.

In size the Frp is the third party in Stortinget after Høyre and Ap (Labour) with 27 seats. Frp was the only party voted against switching the FM network in the parliament (Stortinget) 2011. Two other parties - the Center Party and MDG (the Environmental Party) - wanted to postpone the switch-off. It has been primarily Ap and Høyre, pushing for DAB radio in the Stortinget.

There are only a few local radio stations that broadcast only on DAB. Stations like Radio Metro, which broadcast on FM outside Oslo, are forced, for example, to broadcast on DAB there. But in Oslo City there are four non-commercial community radio stations still on FM.

Many local radio stations report that in the last year the number of listeners has increased sharply. Some have doubled and even tripled their audience. There is also a considerable cross-border listening to Swedish FM stations especially public radio P3. In the far south you can also listening to Danish FM stations and in the far North there are Finnish FM stations.

It is estimated that at least 20 percent of the Norwegian radio audience is still on FM. Online listening via smartphone also means an increased listening volume at the expense of DAB. Listening on DAB is estimated at 60%. Paradoxically this is at the same level as the dissatisfaction rate for the FM switch-off. 6 out of 10 want to retain FM radio.

Also read
DAB Radio in Norway Close to the Abyss. FM Still On.
Norway: Two out of three parties in a new government skeptical to DAB radio
One Out of Two Norwegians Are Still Dissatisfied With DAB Radio
Danish DAB Radio Setback- FM Listening Increased