Norway To Switch Off FM And Transition To Digital Radio By 2017

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IN PHOTO A Norwegian fan listens to a radio during the men's cross country 50 km mass start free final at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Oslo March 6, 2011. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Norway would be the first nation to shut down FM radio by 2017. The country would complete its transition to digital audio format by the end of 2017.

Norway Ministry of Culture proposed to switch off the FM radio across the country and move on to digital format. About 56% of the radio users in Norway use Digital format and the Digital Audio Broadcasting offer 22 national channels in the country. The Digital Radio Standard was actively developed by European researchers but Norway was the first country to accept the standard. The Ministry in its statement said “Digital Radio would enable access to more pluralistic content with better functionality and sound quality.” By switching to Digital radio, Norway hopes to save more than $25 million a year and thus could release the same funds for developing content.

The Digital Radio Service would be free over the air but requires a special receiver attachment to access the content. Experts estimate that over 7 million radio sets would be affected by the switch with only 20% of the car radios equipped to access digital air waves. But Digital Radio has higher population coverage and more dependable in sending messages during emergency. It is also much cheaper than FM networks.

Many other countries like USA, Sweden, UK and in South East Asia are also planning to make the switch. In Sweden the government Auditing Authority has advised to keep the FM format alive. In other countries too, the transition to Digital Radio would take time.

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