Tuesday 14 March 2017

Radio Listening in Norway Plummeting when FM Network Is Closed

The public broadcaster will find it difficult to escape a major flop. - Norwegian truck drivers experience downgraded reception with DAB.
On January 11th there was a big fuss as Nordland was the first fylke (county) to turn off the FM network for nationwide radio - and this is the first time a fylke was able to listen to public broadcaster NRK only via DAB+. This has now led to dramatic consequences. Before FM switch-off listened 74 percent of the inhabitants of Nordland on the radio. After switch-off only 64 percent. Almost each seventh listeners thus have stopped listening to the radio with DAB as the only option.

The decline occurs after radio listening has already shown a downward trend. Research Director Knut-Arne Futsæter, Katar TNS, counts on that radio listening will continue to fall as a result of the FM closure.

However, Ole Jørgen Torvmark, head of Digital Radio Norway, is positive: We see that citizens keep radio to their habits and joins radio on digital platforms. Listening goes something down, it is as expected. In a major technology shift, it is natural that some need time to make the transition, he says in a press release.

NRK has now switched-off its FM network in four counties; Nordland, Trøndelag, Møre and Romsdal. The commercial national channels (P4 and Radio Norway) have also closed its FM transmitters in Nordland and switched to DAB+. The national switch-off will continue county by county in order to be completed in December 2017.

Not included in this listening poll is local radio, which continues on FM. Local radio, both commercial and community, has experienced an increased share of listening, in some places strong increases.

Norwegian Road Transport Union (NLF) has conducted a survey among its members in the four counties Nordland, Trøndelag, Møre og Romsdal. 3 of 4 perceive that radio coverage on DAB is not as good as before with FM. 7 out of 10 also believe this constitutes a security risk.Transition from FM to DAB was intended to secure emergency capabilities. The response from members of the counties where the FM network now is closed indicates that this is not the case, says CEO of the NLF, Geir A. Mo, in a press release.

The result of the poll is disappointing: 75.4% experience DAB coverage is not as good as FM. 68.3% think the DAB coverage poses a security risk.

Respondents listed more than 60 routes where DAB reception was dropping off. Especially in tunnels and in areas with low population coverage is perceived as the poorest, with frequent interruptions and lack of traffic messages. Many reports also that DAB coverage is weather dependent .

In Norway several listeners replace lost nationwide FM with radio online via fixed and mobile broadband and via the terrestrial television network, which also broadcasts NRK radio digitally (DVB-T2). Many also listen to four channels of neighbouring Swedish public radio which can be received by 60 % of the Norwegians. There is no major language barrier between these two Nordic countries and there are no plans for an FM to DAB transition in Sweden.

Also read
Local FM Radio Upbeat As National Radio Shifts to DAB in Norway
National Radio Network Switch-over from FM to DAB+ in Norway
DAB Transition Losers in Norway: Public Radio and Commercial Networks