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Radio News: Norway's transition to digital radio

Apr 28, 2015 6:04 pm
[caption width="330" align="alignright"] From Norwegian radio website. http://radio.no/[/caption]CNN's headline last week "Norway to become first nation in world to shut down FM radio" was not quite true. First, the Norwegian Local Radio Association (NLF) said besides the major stations, only 23 local radio stations will transition to DAB. NLF also said the Norwegian parliment requires 50 percent of the country already be listening to digital feeds before turning the analog signals off. Currently only 19 percent of Norway tunes in DAB broadcasts. And, the analog switch-off still needs approval from parliament. Paul Riismandel in Radio Survivor reports the shut-off has majority support, but opposition from the Progress Party and the Green Party say the change is only due to lobbying from the Digitalradio Norge AS company, not by any consumer demand. Digital broadcasting there is well ahead of the United States, though, where two or three percent of the population can tune in digital radio according to Riismandel in Radio Survivor. "The country’s topography is hard on analog radio signals. Its population-density and distribution makes planning a network of DAB+ transmitters to serve the country a relatively straightforward exercise. And most importantly, Norway’s radio industry isn’t that large, and its most powerful constituents are public and state broadcasters, who’ve been quite supportive of digital radio from the outset," John Anderson in diymedia.net writes. The U.K. has 36.8 percent digital penetration, and most Norwegian broadcasters have upgraded to newer DAB+, which means much better sound quality then in England. The United States are under a completely different format, with major differences. HD Radio, the format here, puts digital signals on analogue frequencies, with usually two extra channels with sound quality issues. DAB, the format chosen by the rest of the world, sounds better and seems more adaptable. For instance, Ofcom, England's radio regulator like the FCC, is allowing community groups to apply for small-scale, stand-alone DAB stations, akin to the digital version of low-power FM. Norway may not be turning off its FM transmitters any time soon, but an all-digital future is probably inevitable.