FM Going Bye-Bye in Norway…

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    Norway’s Minister of Culture announced this week that a national FM-radio switch off will commence in 2017, allowing the country to complete its transition over to digital radio. It’s the end of an era.

    As notes, Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) will provide Norwegian listeners more diverse radio channel content than ever before. Indeed, DAB already hosts 22 national channels in Norway, as opposed to FM radio’s five, and a TNS Gallup survey shows that 56% of Norwegian listeners use digital radio every day. While Norway is the first country in the world to set a date for an FM switch-off, other countries in Europe and Southeast Asia are also in the process of transitioning to DAB.

    According to Thor Gjermund Eriksen, head of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation:

    “This is an important day for everyone who loves radio. The minister’s decision allows us to concentrate our resources even more upon what is most important, namely to create high quality and diverse radio-content to our listeners.”

    Frequency modulation, or FM, radio was patented in 1933 and has been recording and sharing the human story for nearly a century. But its days are clearly waning. According to a 2012 Pew Study, while over 90% of Americans still listen to AM/FM radio at least weekly, more people are choosing to forgo analog radio for Internet-only services each year.

    Eriksen noted “it seems like it’s only a matter of time before many countries follow Norway’s example”.

    Although I’m not so sure I’m ready to part with my 80’s-era Grundig. Thing still sounds like a dream”.


    So, I ought to sell my collection of DX-friendly FM receivers?


    Holy cow, this article really surprises me.

    Steely Dan, the jazz-rockers who scored a hit in 1978 with their single FM (No Static At All), would not be pleased.

    In what will likely be the first of a global transition to digital radio, Norway has announced it will switch off its FM band, becoming the first country to do so. Norway will start turning off FM radio on January 11, 2017, and plans to stop transmission of the last FM signal to the country’s northernmost regions by Dec. 13 of that year.



    Nah! they are too obsolete… just put those old obsolete Marantz 10b, McIntosh Mr-75s and other similar tuners out on the curb on garbage day for pick-up.

    BTW, when is your garbage day? 🙂


    DAB is not HD Radio.


    The transition to all DAB means no more pirates.



    What will prevent pirates from transmitting DAB? It’s an open standard.

    Plus, there will be AM, FM, and shortwave radios there for at least another century.


    NPR’s “Marketplace” show mentioned this briefly last night. Such a radio transition in the US would have to be a slow, gradual transition process, akin to the gradual transition to DTV from analog that took place in the UK over a period of a couple of years, region by region, ending with shutoffs in Northern Ireland in 2012. You can go to YouTube and see the shutoff announcement that aired on BBC1 and BBC2 at the time.

    Here in the US, digital radios are still rarely seen, much less heard. The shutdown of Radio Shack, which sold HD Radio sets in their later years, hurts from that perspective. Like HDTV, Canada is waiting to see what the US does before they embark on their own changeover.

    One has to wonder though. How many stations would get squeezed out in such a changeover in this country? Radio Norway is going from five channels on FM to 22 on DAB. Only NPR, I’d say, would be ready to create more services under such a scenario. ABC, NBC, and CBS are barely alive as radio networks now. Could they use such an event to reinvent thenselves?

    Best, Mike 😉

    Dan Clark

    The first country to vacate the FM band will be Norway, Jan. 1, 2017. How long before it happens here?

    Andy Brown

    The U.S. will not vacate the FM band anytime in the next 30 years, minimum. The U.S. will not end analog broadcasting in the existing band for at least another 20 years. The U.S. has no bandwidth to move FM broadcasters to that will support the amount of competitive big money license owners in a country as big as the U.S.A.

    Comparisons to small european or scandinavian countries is laughable. The FM radio grid in the U.S. can’t be changed anywhere near as easily as in Norway, a country about the size of the state of New Mexico.

    Not only that, but the big money is not going to let any wholesale changes happen anytime soon. Not a chance.


    Several other threads have popped up on this subject on this board. The question I have not seen addressed is, in Norway, does the government hold a monopoly in radio broadcasting or, at least in the operation and maintenance of broadcast transmitters? If the answer is yes, then for them it makes fiscal sense to force a switchover to a system (DAB) where each transmitter simultaneously broadcasts several programs.

    A bigger picture question, I think, is whether broadcasting (of any kind) is on the way out in industrialized societies. If Norwegians’ preferences are shifting heavily in the direction of on-demand and customized programming (podcasts and streaming music services), does it really matter whether their government gives them five radio broadcast channels or 25?

    Andy Brown

    “is whether broadcasting (of any kind) is on the way out in industrialized societies.”

    Not in the U.S. Too much money at stake. Not in countries with strong governments if the government owns the airwaves because of its propaganda value.

    So, in essence, the answer (for various reasons depending on where) is a big fat no.


    Norway doesn’t have lots of radio stations compare to Southern Europe, or the United States. The government run radio stations are operated by NRK, no relations to KNRK here’s the list of radio stations in Oslo


    The first country to vacate the FM band will be Norway, Jan. 1, 2017.

    Incorrect. Norway is discontuning analog FM. They’re using the same band but it will be DAB+ only.


    I was recently following a discussion on the QRZ forums where a Norwegian participant stated that in Norway, all of the radio broadcast infrastructure (LW, FM, and DAB) is owned and operated by one governmentally chartered organization. Although there are independent stations, these are just content-producing organizations. They do not own the transmitters.

    The same discussion revealed that in Germany, all LW broadcasting went off the air at the end of 2014, and all MW broadcasting is to go off the air at the end of this year.

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