Thursday 15 November 2018

Parliament Proposal in Norway: FM Radio For Another Ten Years

Increased listening engages politicians for local radio in Norway.
While the DAB-only national channels are still on cathastrophic listening levels the Center party (Sp) has submitted a proposal to Stortinget that local radio should be allowed to continue on FM until 2031 in parallel with the current DAB permits. I promote the proposal because, as a Center party and media person, I am very concerned that it is time for us to give our important local radio an opportunity to grow and develop to become even more important; for media diversity, for local democracy and for radio as a medium, says Åslaug Sem-Jacobsen, who is behind the proposal together with colleagues.

Now the government has announced that they will address this issue in connection with a long-awaited media statement next year, but Sem-Jacobsen fears this may lead to a delay that will not benefit local radio. She believes that the local stations has to know now because the current FM permits end in 2021 and this hover over them as a ghost. They need predictability for their business, she says to

The main source of income for local radio comes from their activity on FM not DAB. Åslaug Sem-Jacobsen, who has a vocational background in public broadcaster NRK, believes that there are good opportunities for the proposal to be adopted by Stortinget and she knows of broad support by several other parties.  Ap - the Social Democrats- traditionally closely connected to NRK, say they will not support her proposal but two of the three governing parties - Høyre (conservatives) and Frp (Progress party) - are positive for a retainment of FM for local radio.

According to the Norwegian Local Radio Association, there are currently 113 operators who broadcast local radio on FM. 30% of these broadcast simultaneously on DAB. 19 broadcast on DAB only. The number of "new" players since the introduction of DAB is only seven in Norway. Local radio today has approximately 365 employees with a turnover of approximately NOK 186 million. In addition to paid employees, approximately 2,000 volunteers work mainly in non-commercial community radio.

National broadcasters - NRK, Bauer and P4 (NENT) - today are DAB-only.  Norway is still the only country in the world to abandon FM as the main platform for national radio.

There is still a ban on commercial local radio being able to broadcast on FM in the four major cities of Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger and Trondheim. The ban, initiated by Swedish-owned P4 (MTG/NENT), aims to protect national commercial radio on DAB from competition from local radio on FM. Observers believe that the prohibition is probably violating the Norwegian constitution on at least two counts.

Neighbouring countries - Finland and Sweden - will not replace FM with DAB.  Half of the population in Norway is able to listen to cross-border FM. Swedish public channels P3 and P4 are particularly popular with the Norwegians.

Read the full proposal in Norwegian.

Sp vil la lokalradioene være lenger på FM-nettet (Journalisten)

Also read (in English)
Listeners Calling on the Parliament to Restore FM Radio in Norway
The DAB Radio Project in Norway Is Derailing
Norwegian MP: DAB Radio in Norway Is a Tragedy