On Wednesday December 13th, at the end of a 12 month 6 stage programme, Norway became the first country to fully migrate radio services from analogue to digital.
The Norwegian commercial radio stations switched off FM broadcasts in Oslo and the East of Norway 3 months after NRK. Last week both public service and commercial FM were switched off in the final 5% of Norway in Troms and Finmark. While that will be the end of FM transmission for NRK, P4 and Bauer the smaller local stations have to capability to stay on FM for a further 5 years.
Feedback from broadcasters is that they are pleased with the technical switch-off programme and confident that they have taken to right steps to reduce costs and make radio fit for the future. However, the Norwegian Media Regulator highlights that there have been some issues with reception and coverage. Daily radio listening has declined from 68% to 64% with NRK seeing the greatest decline. The local stations on FM have reported increases in listening. The national broadcasters expect radio listening to recover in 2018 as listeners take action to fit digital radio adapters in cars. There is no evidence of online listening or music streaming increasing.
With the UK expected to meet our digital switch over (DSO) criteria in the spring of 2018 we can review and learn important lessons on how to manage DSO. The Norwegians are planning on visiting the UK in March 2018 to present findings and learnings to DCMS, DRUK, Broadcasters and techUK to support our DSO planning and call for action once the Government laid down criteria are met.
Paul Hide of techUK commented "We congratulate all those in Norway that have worked hard to deliver a smooth transation from analogue to digital. The UK can review and take into account lessons learnt as we make preparations for our digital switch over. techUK and our radio manufacturing members believe that the Government must follow through with a commitment to switch, with a date, once the criteria are met and we will work with DCMS to try to make this happen as soon as possible".