Wednesday 20 December 2017

Norwegian Parliament Rumbling Over FM Switch-Off

Government questioned about DAB and secret agreements. 
Radio Metro tries to resist switch-off.
The national channels have now switched-off FM, but the political part of the process is far from over. After a year of overwhelmingly negative opinion, especially in daily press and social media, the government politicians have now started reacting. Written questions were sent to the Minister of Culture about DAB. MP Hege Haukeland Liadal (Social Democrats) asked: Can the Minister of Culture inform about the total development cost of DAB has been as of December 1 2017 compared to the costs the alternative to maintaining and upgrading of the FM network?

Liadal believes that, in addition to the Progress Party, her party, along with all parties in Stortinget, earlier welcomed the development. As a people elected, I am keen to provide the most information and facts in the development of one of the most important media channels we have, radio. We know that it is the actors themselves who take the cost, but indirectly, it is consumers who ultimately take the bill, writes Liadal. Still there is no answer from the Minister of Culture.

Last week, the Center Party and Progress Party (FrP) had some critical questions to the Minister of Culture about DAB, after revelations in the daily Aftenposten:

DAB was forced through against people's wishes. Again, we get evidence that the transition was too early and unnecessary. The agreement that almost secures P4 and Radio Norway's advertising monopoly at national level cannot meet daylight. It is very disgusting. I expect the Minister of Culture to take the matter seriously and explain what has actually happened, says MP Morten Wold, Media Spokesman for the FrP.

The revelation published in Aftenposten is about a confidential agreement which has ensured that the two foreign-owned companies P4 and Radio Norway (MTG or Bauer) will be in control of the national advertising radio network in DAB. The agreement is valid until 2032.

If it is true that the broadcast provider Norkring, P4 and Radio Norway had a deal that could block other content providers for a long time, and the Ministry of Culture has known, I would like a clarification of what has happened, says the Center Party MP Åslaug Sem-Jacobsen to Aftenposten.

Aftenposten has repeatedly in vain asked questions to the Ministry of Culture about how this case has been handled. The Labor Party will address the DAB case directly with Minister of Culture Linda Hofstad Helleland (Conservative), at the beginning of the parliamentary Question Time.

It is primarily the threatened position of local radio that concerns politicians. For a long time according to other sources, behind this is effort by the major players to force local commercial competion out fo the market. This would be particularly aimed at local Radio Metro and others that broadcast on FM in the metropolitan areas. According to experts, such smaller players - without being able to broadcast on FM - hardly will survive being solely in a DAB network together with P4, Radio Norway and the public radio NRK.

Earlier this month, Radio Metro refused to shut down its FM broadcasts in metropolitan Oslo, but after being threatened with fines by the Media Authority and being taken to court by P4 and Radio Norway, Radio Metro decided switch-off FM December 15.

But Radio Metro is continuing on FM outside metropolitan areas. The radio station is hopeful that the EFTA surveillance authority ESA soon will take a decision which will void the government enforced plan to force all commercial stations to leave FM in metropolitan areas.

Read more (Norwegian news sources)
To selskaper kontrollerer nasjonal reklameradio til 2032 (Aftenposten)

DAB-saken skal opp i Stortinget: - Avtalen tåler ikke dagens lys (Aftenposten)
Nye spørsmål om DAB til Kulturministeren (

Also read
FM Switch-off in Norway Might Violate European Free Trade Rules