Saturday 4 May 2019

Switzerland: FM Radio Switch-Off Delayed Until 2024 - If Ever.

The radio industry hesitates. DAB listening is not increasing.
Switzerland has so far been the only other country, after Norway, who planned to switch-off  FM radio. But now FM seems to continue for five years. Much because the Internet becoming the most important radio platform. A spokesman for the telecommunications authority says to the Zürich daily Tages Anzeiger that there now appears to be opinions that the radio industry has not yet taken decisions on planning for FM shutdown and that the FM frequencies can be shut down later than expected, in 2024. Thus, the previous objective is missed to close in 2021. 

The problem is that listening to DAB+ does not increase as desired. During the autumn 2018, 64 per cent of all radio minutes went via digital channels, but only 33 per cent DAB+ and now 31 the ever-growing Internet. The rest is still on the analog FM network. Particularly worrying is that the use of DAB+ has even decreased, albeit by one percentage point. But in order to shut down the FM network soon, DAB listening must increase. Otherwise, the radio industry is at risk of building a network that will have fewer listeners than expected.

Experts expect a transmitter death  - ein Sendersterben - on DAB+, if the FM closure is suspended. Until 2022, you can get financial support for building a DAB network. Then the radio stations have to take all the costs themselves. In order to run the network cost-effectively, there must be as many radio stations as possible. But now the DAB platform is threatened by the much less expensive Internet.

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Smartphones are an important factor for these developments. Smartphones and mobile phones are becoming a dominant media platform for both radio and television. DAB is not receivable in smartphones. On line audio streaming offers superior choice of programs and sound quality.

The Swiss public service company (SSR) has already taken the consequences of the fact that most television viewers now choosing to receive tv-signals via broadband. In 2019, SSR will dismantle its digital terrestrial television network (DVB-T). Probably will the radio go the same way - well in advance of 2024.

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