Sunday 5 October 2014

Licenses for Digital Commercial Radio Increase Media Ownership Concentration in Sweden

A DAB+ breakthrough is still far off in Sweden. 2015 is the decisive year.
The media authority has awarded 21 national licenses and four regional licenses for commercial radio on digital DAB+ in Sweden.
The application process has not revealed any interest from new local or national actors or from new foreign companies. There has been more space offered than present demand and all applications has been granted.
The licenses are awarded to radio actors, which are already well-established on FM. 21 of 25 licenses go to the oligopoly of national commercial radio; SBS Discovery and MTG. The four regional licenses are also awarded established local FM stations.

The licenses are valid until 2022 but applicants have to be on air before October 2015.

DAB-transmissions has been on the air in Sweden since 1992.  In 2005 the then Minister of Culture Leif Pagrotsky put a lid on the public radio efforts to replace FM with DAB. However, on an informal basis Sveriges Radio and the broadcast provider Teracom has been running a DAB/DAB+ pilot in Stockholm and three other metropolitan areas reaching approx. 35 % of the population. Any listening figures have not yet  been presented.

The former government has proposed that DAB+ can be introduced "on market terms"
in Sweden and plans should be made for an FM switch-off 2022. However,  as the DAB is not suitable for local radio - according to the government - there should also be an alternative presented not later than 2016. 

The parliament will take a decision on a possible transition to DAB+ in March-May 2015. However, the green party, which now is a part of the new government, wants further investigation of the choice of digital technology as if it is sustainable for the future and meeting consumer needs.  Also the National Audit Office is also reviewing if this transition will be of benefit for the citizens and will publish a final report in Match 2015.

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