Thursday 25 June 2015

Final Stop For DAB Radio in Sweden

Joins Finland rejecting the DAB technology and retaining FM
Democracy too strong for longtime lobbyism
The Swedish government has announced it will not go ahead with plans to replace FM radio with digital DAB+ broadcasting. In the daily Svenska Dagbladet, the Swedish minister of culture and democracy Alice Bah Kuhnke writes that there is not enough support for introducing digital radio. Among the main reasons for retaining FM is that 10 million FM receivers would have to be replaced.

The culture minister also points to concerns from the Swedish defense, which uses some of the DAB frequencies, and that there are some reports that the planned DAB networks wouldn’t have the same coverage area as the current FM networks.

The plan to replace FM with DAB presented in 2014 by a consultant commissioned by the former center-right government proposed a national launch of DAB in late 2016 and that public service radio and commercial radio should stop using FM in 2022.

In the consultation round this proposal was overwhelmingly rejected by central public institutions and many experts in Sweden. Only some minor authorities are behind the proposal together with established DAB proponents. This confirms a unison negative opinion in media when the proposal was first  presented.

Making the uphill struggle for DAB in Sweden even more steeper was a very critical report about the DAB radio introduction by the National Audit Office published in April 2015.

The decision by the Swedish government, a coalition of Social Democrats and Greens, was not welcomed by the major broadcasters and the broadcast provider Teracom which is regarded as the Swedish DAB lobby interests backed-up by EBU and its lobbying arm WorldDMB.  But this decision to retain FM radio has been met with a strong positive response in media by experts and public opinion.

Sweden has now joined Finland leaving DAB behind. This will probably complicate the 2017 DAB transition in neighboring Norway. Switching off FM will leave all visiting motorists from Sweden and Finland. as well as from several other countries, without access to major public radio stations for traffic and emergency alerts in Norway.

DAB test transmissions was carried out already 1992 by the public radio in Sweden and officially on air 1995. An earlier Socialdemocratic government put an end to DAB developments in 2005, but there have been some temporary DAB and DAB+ broadcasting since. However, there few DAB receivers have been purchased and there are few listeners.

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