Sunday 8 October 2023

FM Radio Will Stay On in Norway

Local radio retains its current FM licenses until 2031

Today, national radio channels in Norway only broadcast on DAB, while FM is still the main platform for local radio. The government is now scrapping its previous proposal to re-announce all FM concessions in 2025 and proposes that the local radio stations may keep their concessions until 2031.  -  What will happen next with FM in Norway is still difficult to predict, but the experiences from the rest of the world suggest that FM will be retained for decades to come. No other countries have yet replaced FM with DAB.

In the past, the FM concessions have been extended by direct allocation to existing concession holders on two occasions, for the period 2017–2021 and for the period 2022–2026. After the government proposed in last year's state budget that all local radio concessions on FM should be advertised again for the period 2027 to 2031, the Norwegian Local Radio Association has become strongly involved in the issue. FM is still a very important platform for local radio, both financially and in terms of listenership. The association has been very clear that an extension of existing FM permits is the only way to ensure the local radio stations' possibilities for a predictable operating economy.

During the Parliament treatment of the media policy steering signal 2023–2026, a majority in the committee expressed an expectation that the government will make a direct extension of the current permits for local radio operators broadcasting in the FM network, until 2031. The government aims to direct allocation of FM licenses to existing local/community radio license holders for the period 2027–2031 must be implemented in good time before the current license expires on 31 December 2026, according to the budget proposal from the Ministry of Culture.

Chairman of the Norwegian Local Radio Association, Aslak Sommerfelt Skretting believes that this is an important breakthrough for the industry and shows the effect of the local radio association's long-term political work. - The Local Radio Association is very happy to have been heard so clearly in the permit issue.

The budget proposal also does not contain any major changes for local radio. The most obvious thing to notice is that the grant size for the support system for local audiovisual media has been adjusted for inflation from NOK 22.2 million to NOK 23 million. NOK 22.8 million has also been set aside for grants for innovation and development.

- It is worrying that the ministry does not comment on the development we saw in the industry economy last year. The industry is burdened by strong cost growth for digitization, while at the same time we see stagnant revenues in tough local advertising markets. The subsidy scheme for digitizing radio no longer keeps up with the pace of development of DAB, which has come a long way, and the industry is left to itself to bear the increased costs. We see that it goes beyond editorial efforts, several radio stations have decreased in the last six months and it is challenging to achieve a balance in the business, concludes Skretting.


No country in the world has yet replaced FM radio with DAB or any other digital terrestrial broadcasting system. For Switzerland, however, there are such plans. However, these are postponed every year following objections from several commercial radio stations which emphasize that they would not be able to survive financially without their FM broadcasts. Much now points to the fact that even in Norway you will not be able to do without FM, at least when it comes to local radio.

DAB radio becomes too costly for local radio operations, at the same time that DAB has a inferior geo-range compared to FM and is less robust from an EAS (Emergency Alert System) preparedness point of view.

Digital radio via the Internet is also taking over a lot of listening while more modern terrestrial digital radio systems such as DRM and 5G Broadcast are being introduced in some other countries.


In Norway, radio listening (on FM and DAB) has decreased more in recent years than in the neighboring Nordic countries. According to Kantar measurements in the second quarter of this year, 54.6% listen to the radio daily. Public service NRK1 had the largest share of listeners with 21.2% and NRK2 6.9%. For national commercial radio, P4 (Viaplay) had 11.8% and Radio Norge (Bauer) 4.5%. For local radio, 7.6% listen on an average day. On cross-border radio 1.8% (mainly Swedish radio on FM).

The Norwegian Local Radio Association is a national organization for both commercial local radio and nonprofit community radio. Today, the association has 125 radio stations as members.

Also read

DAB Transition in Norway Contributes Radio Fast Losing Listeners

FM Radio Still Going Strong in the Netherlands

Battle for FM: Swiss Shutdown Could Be Delayed Even Further

FM Remains the Economic Basis of Commercial Radio in Germany