Norway: So, why exactly are the Norwegians switching off and going digital? It makes a lot of sense. The land of the Midnight Sun, the land of the Nobel Peace Prize and the land of any number of interesting gastronomic delicacies was also one of the first countries to give women suffrage, to embrace the internet and now: to lay the last analogue media to rest.
Fact check: FM will not be switched off in Norway. FM will continue to live on, with hundreds of radio stations, also after 2017. However, these stations are local only and not in metropolitan areas. All the majors, including public service broadcaster NRK and all their stations, P4-gruppen and Bauer Media (these three enjoy a market share of over 95 per cent) will switch off their national, regional and local stations starting this week.
What are they up to?
Norway is often thought of, with its Scandinavian sisters Sweden and Denmark, as a fairly lovely place on Earth. It enjoys being affluent, a big oil producer, having a high standard of living – and the prices to match – and being pretty open minded.
When women were fighting for the right to vote, Norwegian politicians were among the first to grant universal suffrage. Norway built a social welfare system that they are enjoying international recognition for. Norwegians embrace technology and Norway was, together with Britain, the first two nations connected to what would later become the internet. Norwegians think of themselves as pretty traditional, but evidence shows that they are anything but. So, how about that switch over?
The first digital radiostation on DAB was NRK Klassisk. A Norwegian station. Established back in the mid-nineties it is still going strong. Norwegians have been central in developing the standard of broadcasting through everything from the EBU to World DMB (now World DAB) and now taking the next step in going all digital.
Not all Norwegians are convinced. Why change something that works?
The change makes a lot of sense to broadcasters though. DAB+ lends itself to the Norwegian topography for one. Where mountains and valleys make FM broadcasting near impossible. They made it work of course, but at a cost. DAB+ signals work differently and the signals bouncing off mountains and down valleys make reception better. Fewer transmitters, lower price and a lower use of energy.
For most Norwegians, even those in the capital and central metropolitan areas, DAB+ brings more stations and a greater selection of formats. In certain areas of Norway this is the first time they are able to receive a terrestrial signal that offer more than one – 1- radio station.
So being first makes nothing but sense really.
The switch over will happen in region by region and will eventually finish in December this year.
Prediction: Listening will take a hit on the short term. But after that Norway will see radio listening at an all time high. Research show digital listeners love radio and with more to listen to total hours should show a nice lift. Well, after the initial shock and old analogue radio’s are replaced of course.