Parliament settlement opens for local radio survival opportunities. Another setback for DAB stakeholders.
The government coalition Labour and Center Party together with Socialist Venstre have secured a political majority for local and community radio stations do not need to apply for a new license to broadcast on FM but that these are extended directly without a new application process in 2025. This is good news for those who today broadcast and listen to local radio whose survival depends on not being dependent on a costly transition to the DAB system. This applies to both commercial and non-profit local radio.
In connection with the proposal for the state budget, it was proposed that there would be a new round of applications for community radio in the period 2027 to 2031. From 2017, local radio has had its permits directly extended twice, most recently for the period 2022 to 2026, and local radio has been heard on their argument that a renewed search process would be labor-intensive and provide little predictability. The concessions, valid until 2032, will now be distributed directly to the local radio stations that wish to continue broadcasting on FM.
FM is still the most important platform for local radio, both in terms of listenership and financially. We have taken seriously the reactions of the local radio stations, who believe that a new application process is unpredictable and takes an unnecessarily long time. This is not the point. Therefore, we agree that we will extend these permits immediately, says Ap's MP Åse Kristin Ask Bakke in the culture committee of the parliament.
We know how important the income from the FM broadcasts is to them, and we also know how expensive the investments in the development of DAB are. That is why we have listened when local radio has said that both new and previous investments can be lost if they have to go into a resource-demanding new round of concessions where the outcome is not a given, says Center Party's MP Åslaug Sem-Jacobsen.
The stakeholders behind the introduction of the DAB system in Norway tried right from the start to get legislation for a total ban on FM broadcasting right from the formal transition in 2017. They wanted not only the nationwide companies Bauer (formerly SBS), P4 (Swedish MTG) and public broadcaster NRK would switch completely to DAB. They succeeded no more than getting a ban on commercial local radio in the five largest cities. Popular local competitors on FM, i.a. Radio Metro, was forced out or to switch to DAB.
No other country in the world has yet followed Norway's example and switched off its FM radio, either nationally or locally. Neighbouring Sweden has no plans to replace FM with DAB and Finland has completely rejected DAB.