Norway has become the first country to switch off Analogue (FM) radio altogether. The phased process across regions of the country finished this week, making Norway the first country in the world to offer DAB only.
There has been much debate in recent years as to the pros and cons to the eventual demise of Analogue broadcasting in the UK and what this will mean to listeners. The UK radio industry is likely to watch with interest how this decision plays out in Norway and this will reignite interest in the subject and raise questions again.
Roberts Radio chief executive Owen Watters (pictured) has been involved with the debate for many years, championing DAB, whilst remaining resolute that the audio industry must be responsible and ensure key criteria are met before a date is considered. Rather like the switch to digital TV, this must be well planned and well communicated to the public so they see the switch to DAB as progress.
Owen commented: “There are certain criteria that must be met before a switch-off date can finally be agreed. The DAB signal must be available at a national level to ensure the wider population has access to the DAB signal. It is not acceptable to leave FM users without either option.
“The volume of cars still on the road presents an issue. Whilst some car brands ensure new cars are fitted with DAB as standard, there are still a large amount on the road without DAB. This figure continues to fall as older cars leave the road, but it needs to drop significantly. There are adaptors that can be purchased that will provide access to DAB, but this is a short term fix and not a viable long term solution.
“National communication is vital and switching-off FM cannot happen until people understand how this will affect their listening and the benefits that DAB and Smart Radio offers.”
Owen continued: “There are many more stations broadcast via DAB than FM, so listeners can enjoy a whole range of stations that are unavailable via FM. This is also true of Smart Radio; internet radio has access to around 20,000 global radio stations – you cannot get any of this with FM.
“For the FM stalwarts, we need to demystify the technologies behind DAB and Smart Radio and just shout about the benefits and how they enhance the listening experience. The possibilities will amaze them and they will never look back.”
He added: “DAB has been positioned as the alternative to analogue and the future for radio for many years now, however with the advent of Smart Radio (i.e. turning into radio stations via Wi-Fi) this could actually negate the need for DAB altogether.
“Currently more of the population has access to the internet than they do to a DAB signal. Switch off in the UK is continually delayed until geographically everyone can access DAB, but with Wi-Fi being widely available to the population, this could well be seen as the better option.”