Monday 12 September 2016

DAB Critics Slam Radio Revolution in Norway

Forced digitalization is an embarrassing exhibit of nation-building with no vision.
Static is rising over Norway’s plans to literally turn off its FM radio network next year and replace it with DAB. As the date for launching the FM phase-out draws closer, Norwegians
are waking up to the fact that their traditional AM/FM radios will no long work, and protests are pouring in, writes in a comprehensive article.

The FM network will be the targeted for a phased shutdown starting in January. “Norwegian politicians have decided to make 15 million FM radios in Norway completely useless,” wrote journalist Jan Thoresen, a longtime digital media expert in Norway, in a commentary in newspaper Dagbladet earlier this summer. “That’s a bad idea.”

It’s not so much the ultimate conversion to DAB that’s upsetting people, since most realize that the future is digital. It’s rather the process and how many Norwegians feel DAB is being shoved down their throats (or in their ears), at considerable expense. The Norwegian Parliament may have exhibited cutting-edge boldness when it voted in the spring of 2015 that Norway would become the first country in the world to have completely digital radio by the end of 2017. Critics claim the shift is simply occurring far too quickly.

Thoresen, who has played a key role in the evolution of websites in Norway, has been at the forefront of crossing the digital divide but is nonetheless highly critical of how Norwegians are being forced into converting to DAB radio. “Forced digitalization of the radio network is not part of a technical debate,” Thoresen wrote. “It’s an embarrassing exhibit of nation-building with no vision.”

Many other critics agree that government politicians and Members of Parliament have let the radio industry in Norway decide how Norwegians should listen to radio. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) has been a major proponent of the conversion to DAB, turning up the volume in recent months by airing frequent messages about how important and necessary the move is. The messages are meant to prod Norwegians to go out and buy new digital radios, otherwise they’ll only be able to listen to radio online. 

Millions are not convinced. A recent public opinion poll conducted by research firm Ipsos for Dagbladet showed that 65 percent of those questioned opposed snuffing out the FM network next year. Only 16 percent were in favour while 19 percent were unsure or had no opinion.

Opposition politicians from the Labour Party, which held government power when the DAB process was first launched, are having second thoughts about its approval and steamroller effect. So are several others, faced with a new public outcry. The only ones cheering the DAB transition are those selling DAB radios and adapters, which they think will be under many Christmas trees later this year, writes

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