Saturday 8 July 2017

DAB Transition in Norway Heading For a Flop

"We will switch-off DAB"
Radio Norway loses half of its listeners. But all three nationwide losers. Continued DAB resistance. Many switch to local radio on FM.
The major radio channels is losing thousands of listeners when the FM network is step by step switched off. Nevertheless, the FM switch-off still remains in popular Oslo and Akershus County. For the country's major channel public service NRK P1, daily coverage fell by eight percent - from 1,517,000 in week 24 last year to 1,394,000 in the same week this year. The listeners leaving the NRK main channel have probably switched to FM local radio and on-line.

NRK's radio broadcasts have fallen from a daily monitoring of 48.3 percent in 2016 to 45.8 percent so far this year. But we also see that the listeners will return to the end, says NRK Radio Director Ole Jan Larsen to the daily VG. He recalls that the listeners have far more channels to choose from. But Larsen is still not happy that the flagship channel P1 has decreased from daily 40 minutes to 35 minutes.

It is Kantar TNS who has measured daily listening in June 2017 - compared to June 2016 - after switching-off  the FM network and ongoing phasing in of DAB radio.

Inger Svendsen (50) Bodø has done well in the last six months without getting the major radio channels on the FM band. I have not purchased DAB radio at home. I listen to the radio via the TV, she says. In one of the cars we have DAB radio, but the signal often drops, for example, on the way to the cabin in Beiarn, says Svendsen to VG.

But also the two nationwide commercial channels foreign-owned owned (Bauer and MTG) Radio Norway and P4 lost listeners during the transition from FM to DAB+. In week 24 in the daily coverage of Radio Norway decreased by 20 percent - from 566,000 listeners in 2016 to 451,000 this year. In two years, Radio Norway has gone from 16.2% to 8.5% daily listening.

For P4, the decline in week 24 from before to after FM closure is not as pronounced as in Radio Norway. In daily coverage, the decline is 159,000, corresponding to 16 percent.

Director Kenneth Andresen of the P4 Group believes it is quite natural that listeners spend some time acquiring new radios and will result in a temporary decline in daily coverage. He believes the listeners find new channels and spend time on them.

Listening has generally decreased as well. People who are used to listening a lot to the radio in the car have less time on the radio if they have not been installed DAB + in the car yet, says Ole Jan Larsen NRK, who points out that P1's commitment to traffic radio traditionally has given a lot of listening time in cars.

The research leader in TNS Knut-Arne Futsæter believes that the future of listening in the car will be crucial if the radio channels are going to succeed in boosting listening again. Unfortunately, it's relatively expensive and many people have trouble getting digital radio in cars. Many therefore expect until the last minute to get DAB+ in a car, he says to VG.

2 million cars in Norway are still reported not being equipped with DAB radio. Moreover, from different districts, it is announced that police cars still lack DAB radio because, for budgetary reasons, priority is given to other equipment.

Local radio, which will continue on FM, is now significantly increased listening in all counties where nationwide FM networks are closed. We notice an increased listener interest. We had a group of 25-55 years, but now we are 11-80 years old, says the program host and editorial director Egil Farstad at Radio Ålesund. Not all radio listeners have participated in the transition from FM to DAB. At Sunnmøre, the local radio continues to broadcast on the FM network, and they feel a whole new commitment to listeners.


The opinion of the forced FM closure is still very strong in Norway. Media monitoring has long been characterized by overwhelming negative news about the DAB transition in national and local newspapers. Positive news about DAB can generally only be noted in the media themselves involve in the project, mainly NRK and the lobbying platform Digitalradio Norge ( Also in social media, resistance against the FM closure proves to be extensive.

A majority of politicians in the parliament are still behind the decision for a transition from FM to DAB. No one has yet dared to question a continued closure process despite the widespread popular anger. A parliamentary election is set for September.

The FM closure of the national radio is behind the increased listenership for  local radio outside the largest cities. In addition, the listening habits have also been shifted to platforms other than DAB such as on-line radio and other streaming services, as well as digital radio broadcast on the television network (DVB-T2 and cable). However, it is not only the closure of FM that annoys the Norwegians. Reports are coming in from switched-off counties about DAB reception fall-outs as well as deterioration of sound quality compared to previous FM radio.

Also read
Serious Setback for DAB Radio in Ireland
Will DAB Kill Radio? Continued Listening Decline in Norway
Continued Local Radio on FM Welcome by Advertisers in Norway
"DAB Is The Final Stop For Radio"