Monday 29 April 2019

The DAB Backlash: Only Half of The Population Now Listen to Radio

Record low radio listening in Norway confirmed by government audience research
Only about half of the population listened to regular radio (FM, DAB or local radio), Internet radio or both daily in 2018. It is a record low. The average listening was 1 hour and 8 minutes, according to the Norwegian Media Barometer survey for the authority Statistics  Norway (SSB) - This is both the lowest proportion of radio listeners and the lowest listening time we have measured during the years the survey has been conducted, says Emma Castillo Schiro, responsible for the Norwegian Media Brometer 2018.

The figures show that 71 per cent of the population listened to radio daily in 1991, before the proportion gradually fell to 2000 when it stabilized between 54 and 60 per cent by 2016, when it began to decline again.

Many have access to a DAB receiver but still just one out of two is listening.

38 percent of the population listened to DAB radio last year. This is an increase from 33% the year before. The number who have DAB radio at home has increased from 65 percent in 2017 to 72 percent last year. Just over half - 51% - have DAB radio in the car.

Public radio NRK P1 is the no 1 channel in terms of the number of listeners, while commercial P4 is in second place. Public P3 and commercial Radio Norway are just behind. NRK P1 alone has a listening compilation of 14%, but all NRK channels together have a support of 27%.

This is a clear indication of a very weak position for the public radio NRK which 7 out of 10 Norwegian do not listen to any longer.

NRK P1 is the country's largest channel in terms of the number of listeners, while P4 is in second place. P3 and Radio Norway are just behind. For local radio, 8%, an increased by two percentage points from 2017.

The commercial broadcasters control public assessments of the DAB project

The authority Statistics Norway does the annual media survey on behalf of the government. The survey reveals the true picture of the Norwegian media landscape and the report is not influenced by external actors such as Bauer and the P4 group (NENT). It provides a good overview of the general media use in Norway is therefore completely independent analyzes of the results for the radio industry in Norway. The survey covers all independent audio services, including local radio on FM, music streaming and podcasting.

The national radio broadcasters NRK, the P4 group and Bauer Media, on the other hand, make their own commercial measurements through the analysis company Nielsen. These measurements only cover radio sounds for their own radio channels on DAB and their own podcasts via Internet radio. Thus, no other audio services outside these three operators' own brands. The triopol's own measurements include not a local radio on FM or cross-border listening.

Measurements from Nielsen show a slanted picture - with self-evident advantage for those who order and pay for such audience research. The purpose is to increase revenues for the P4 group and Bauer Media. While also accelerate the liquidation of FM radio in order to get rid of local  radio competition.

Statistics Norway writes in its press release that 50% of the population listens to regular radio (FM, DAB or local radio), Internet radio or both in 2018. Note the word "ordinary radio" - Statistics Norway includes local radio and FM - in addition to DAB, while Bauer Media's analyst speaks just about their own channels on DAB - through their own measuring system which can be described as not credible.

The state media authority regards DAB as a success because it is said that radio listening is back at a normal level. But the Media Authority's assessment is based on a commercial measurement method that completely excludes all listening alongside the tripoly NRK, P4 Group and Bauer Media. The Media Authority thus chooses to disregard the government's own statistics authority.

On May 8 the Media Authority will announce its proposal on continued FM broadcasting for local radio in Norway after 2021.

Read the report Norsk mediebarometer 2019 (Statistics Norway)

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Read more (in Norwegian)