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Norway Becomes the First Country to Say Goodbye to FM Radio

Digital is killing the radio star.

At least, it is in Norway.

After more than 60 years of the FM dial, the country is set to become the first to shutdown its FM (Frequency Modulation) radio network, marking a controversial move to digital technology.

The shutdown will begin in the northern city of Bodoe on January 11, and all national broadcasts will be a thing of the past by the end of the year.

Proponents of the switch to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) point to its ability to offer clearer sound throughout the country, especially given the mountainous and fjord-filled geographical landscape.

Image: The Range
Image: The Range

The decision to shutdown Norway’s FM radio system was made back in 2011, with the country’s parliament suggesting that the cost of having both an FM radio network and a DAB network was too costly for a country of only 5 million people.

Armed with the estimation that the cost of FM was eight times higher than digital, the government argued that the dollars saved could be better spent on creating better, more diverse radio content.

Switzerland plans to follow the same path by 2020, and Denmark and Britain are apparently considering a shift as well.

Whether it catches on elsewhere remains to be seen. One thing is for sure; not everyone is happy with the shift away from FM radio.

According to an opinion poll conducted on behalf of the daily newspaper Dagbladet, 66 per cent of respondents were against the shift, while just 17 percent supported it. Not everyone has the luxury of DAB radio systems, and adapter to switch an FM car radio to a DAB system could set you back 1,500 Norwegian crowns ($174.70), according to Reuters.


According to Forbes, North Americans still have a love for FM radio.

While 56 per cent of Norwegians already listen to DAB radios, this isn’t the case for those of us across the pond, as Forbes reports. The publication says that ninety per cent of people in the U.S. listen to FM radio at least once a week.

In our home and native land, digital radio is pretty much irrelevant.

As the CBC reports, we shouldn’t expect to see a shift away from FM radio in the near future, as broadcasters and industry analysts say the adoption of the shift is taking place at a much slower, cautious pace.

So, don’t get rid of those vintage radios yet.

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