The EBU’s Head of Radio Graham Dixon has spoken at a ceremony in Norway on Wednesday (11 January) marking the beginning of the country's switchover to digital radio. Norway is the first nation in Europe to turn off its' FM signal.
The city of Bodø in Nordland, the first region to move entirely over to digital radio,hosted the event which saw the FM signal in the area switched off in a live broadcast on NRK 1 and at radio.no. Norwegian Secretary of State Bård Folke Fredriksen and NRK’s Director General, Thor Gjermund Eriksen attended the ceremony along with invitees from France, Sweden, The Netherlands and Australia among others.
The switchover was executed at 1111 CET by Bertih Pauline Olderskog, a dedicated NRK P1 listener, and was watched closely by other countries where digital radio penetration is high including Denmark, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
Over the next year five national FM-channels (three from EBU Member NRK and two from commercial broadcasters will be replaced by 30 digital channels (15 commercial, 15 from NRK).
"For NRK as a public service broadcaster it is of great importance to be able to reach out to all inhabitants in Norway with our content," said NRK DG Eriksen. "The transition from analogue to digital means Norwegians, for the first time, will have the same choice of radio channels, wherever they live in Norway, be it the capital of Oslo or in Kirkenes far up in the north."
“Bodø is regarded as the ‘gateway to the Norwegian north’,” said Graham Dixon. “This week, the city of Bodø has become the gateway to the digital future of radio. As FM is extinguished and DAB becomes the backbone of radio reception - it is a historic moment. Norway has been working over two decades with considerable energy to achieve this, starting with the launch back in the 1990s of the first digital-only stations, non-stop classical music and news.”
Research from TNS, collated by the EBU’s Media Intelligence Service, shows that more than 60% of listening time in Norway is done via digital radio. 99.7% of the country is served by digital radio while more than 70% of households have at least one digital radio device.
NRK’s own research has highlighted that the over 60 age group is most prepared for the national switchover that will be complete by the end of 2017.
“One reason for this relative, and perhaps surprising, high preparedness could be NRKs digital channel, NRK P1+, that specifically targets senior listeners,” says Marit Holmquist Fenne from NRK.
“The channel has been a success from its very first day in 2013, and is a good example on how digitalization benefits the audience.”
“This clear and definitive step should prove an inspiration to other organisations heading towards digital switchover,” added Dixon. “With careful planning and bold well-defined intentions, it is possible to arrive at the goal, realising the benefits it offers in both audience and economic terms.”