Digital Radio Switchover - FM Dead?

The official switching off of most FM stations to DAB started in Norway overnight.

Representatives from radio in Norway and around the world gathered to mark the occasion, throwing a switch from FM to DAB and DAB+.

National FM networks will be switched off region by region – starting in Nordland and progressing across the whole country throughout 2017. The final regions, Troms and Finnmark, will complete the process in December.

“Today’s digital switchover is a hugely important milestone for the radio industry,” said Patrick Hannon, President, WorldDAB. “The DAB platform is far more efficient than FM – offering both greater choice and clearer sound. With the start of the switch-over process, Norway is sending a clear signal across the world that the future of radio is digital.”

Ole Jørgen Torvmark, CEO of Digital Radio Norway, said: “This is a historic day for radio. We want to see radio continue its development on digital platforms, following the FM-technology that lifted radio from its beginning on AM. The Norwegian broadcasters are showing the digital possibilities today by launching five new radio stations, giving the listeners 30 national channels in total. The world’s first digital switchover is made possible through collaboration across Government, broadcasters and supply chain. Throughout 2017, the focus will be to help all listeners with the transition.”

Other international markets are following Norway’s lead. Switzerland is planning for switch-over to begin in 2020 and a major promotional campaign to raise awareness starts this year. The North-Italian region of South Tyrol will start its FM switch-off in 2017.

A commitment to digital switchover has significant benefits for broadcasters, manufacturers and listeners,” says Patrick Hannon. “It provides certainty on the future and allows broadcasters and radio manufacturers to plan and invest accordingly. For listeners, this greater investment and innovation in radio means more choice – today in Bodø consumers have access to 30 national stations on DAB+, compared to just five on FM.”

While in the UK, the government has stated it will review the next steps for digital radio when its criteria for coverage and listening are met – expected to be achieved by the end of 2017. Germany and Denmark have both recently announced second national multiplexes, the Netherlands continues to make good progress, France has announced continued geographic expansion, Slovenia launched national services in 2016 and Belgium has announced plans for a federal DAB+ launch across Flanders and Wallonia in 2018. Outside of Europe, Australia is making some inroads.

As reported on Radio Today, Digital radio services are expanding across Australia with trials in Canberra and Darwin to be made permanent and digital radio to be added to Hobart and the Gold Coast over the next two to three years.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority, in consultation with the Digital Radio Planning Committee, has prepared a package of planning papers for the future development of DAB+ digital radio across Australia.

CEO of Commercial Radio Australia shared with Radio Today earlier this week on Australia's DAB moves last year saying: "Exciting progress in DAB+ digital radio with 27% of metro listening to DAB+ each week and significant progress in regional rollout with permanent services recently announced for Canberra, Darwin and Hobart."

The Norwegian switchover applies to national radio stations and commercial local radio stations broadcasting in larger cities. Community radio stations and smaller local stations will continue to broadcast on FM for five more years after national switch off, at which point licences will be reviewed.

Thanks to our partners and Radio Today UK for some of the content - read more here.



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Matt(0:12 12 Jan 2017)
Forgive my technical ignorance but is it _possible_ to switch our whole country to DAB? I mean, Norway's 385,000 sq km is very different to Australia's 7 million. Does the shape and vast expanse of Australia make it harder/impossible to ever fully commit to broadcasting like that?
Anonymous(0:34 12 Jan 2017)
DAB = Dead and buried
Its a case of too little too late... Streaming will end up winning
Anonymous(22:24 12 Jan 2017)
I disagree with Anonymous. I have streaming and DAB in the car and DAB wins every day. Can't be bothered fiddling around with streaming and chewing up data.
Streaming(23:43 12 Jan 2017)
I agree with Anonymous.
Streaming gives you far more variety.

Cheers Me
Anonymous(23:49 12 Jan 2017)
@anonymous 22:24

You wont be fiddling when its on your dash of your car and listening to it doesnt come off your data allowance
Anonymous(1:27 13 Jan 2017)
I think what 0:34 Anonymous means is streaming of radio stations will win in the battle of DAB vs Streaming technology becoming the predecessor of AM/FM. Not streaming of on demand services like Spotify & AM.

That dashboard is a very competitive space at the moment, and as somebody with an CarPlay enabled car, the potential for radio to have a presence there is very exciting. We need to hurry up and go about it though, or we could miss the boat (Just like we have with DAB). I hope for CRA's sake that their RadioApp will soon be CarPlay / Android thing enabled.

DAB has proven itself as just the AM Stereo of this modern era. Soon we will move onto the new FM equivalent and it's looking like streaming will be how we deliver our product.

Gotta jam from Snow Patrol just came on the radio.
Mark(20:50 14 Jan 2017)
I'm with Optus mobile, 12gb data for $40 a month with unlimited streaming (no data usage) for iHeart, Pandora, Google Music.

I'm loving it.

Stream goes on the minute I'm in my vehicle - my CRV automatically plays last station listened to from iHeart (usually Big Classic Hits) and away I go.
Jay(6:17 17 Jan 2017)
I think DAB in Australia can work but it needs to boost broadcast signal more further out from the capital cities.
Every new car should be fitted with DAB by now & still a few car companies are abit slow adding digital radio to their new models.
Anonymous(8:14 02 Feb 2017)
DAB is only good in dense populations. DRM uses the "AM" and "Short Wave" and the old analog TV channels 0 - 3 will cover areas from local to the whole of the continent. It is much more appropriate for all but the 6 mainland state capital cities.
DAB and streaming percentages are available from the and
DAB is certainly not dead and streaming services are a very small percentage of the audience

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