Norway To Switch Off FM radio

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Norway To Switch Off FM radio

Postby Marsbar » Thu Jan 05, 2017 8:31 pm

Norway is set to become the first nation to start switching off its FM radio network next week, in a risky and unpopular leap to digital technology that will be closely watched by other countries considering whether to follow suit.

Critics say the government is rushing the move and many people may miss warnings on emergencies that have until now been broadcast via the radio. Of particular concern are the 2 million cars on Norway’s roads that are not equipped with Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) receivers, they say.

Sixty-six per cent of Norwegians oppose switching off FM, with just 17 per cent in favour and the rest undecided, according to an opinion poll published by the daily Dagbladet last month.

Nevertheless, parliament gave the final go-ahead for the move last month, swayed by the fact that digital networks can carry more radio channels.

Switzerland plans a similar shift from 2020, and Britain and Denmark are among those also considering such a switch. A smooth transition to DAB, which is already beamed across Norway, could encourage these countries to move ahead.

The shutdown of the FM (Frequency Modulation) network, introduced in the 1950s, will begin in the northern city of Bodoe on Jan. 11.

By the end of the year, all national FM broadcasts will be closed in favour of DAB, which backers say carries less hiss and clearer sound throughout the large nation of 5 million people cut by fjords and mountains.

“We’re the first country to switch off FM but there are several countries going in the same direction,” said Ole Joergen Torvmark, head of Digital Radio Norway, which is owned by national broadcasters NRK and P4 to help the transition.

Torvmark said cars were the “biggest challenge” – a good digital adapter for an FM car radio costs 1,500 Norwegian crowns ($174.70), he said.

One member of the ruling coalition was scathing, however, voicing concerns similar to those expressed by thousands of elderly and drivers in surveys and elsewhere.

“We are simply not ready for this yet,” Ib Thomsen, an MP from the Progress Party, a partner in the Conservative-led government, told Reuters.

“There are 2 million cars on Norwegian roads that don’t have DAB receivers, and millions of radios in Norwegian homes will stop working when the FM net is switched off. So there is definitely a safety concern,” he said.

For the same cost, digital radio in Norway allows eight times more radio stations than FM. The current system of parallel FM and digital networks, each of which cost about 250 million crowns ($29-million), saps investments in programmes.

Among other nations, Britain plans to review the need for a switchover once digital listening reaches 50 per cent. That could be reached by the end of 2017 on current trends, Digital Radio UK spokeswoman Yvette Dore said.

From The Globe and Mail
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Re: Norway To Switch Off FM radio

Postby MoodyBlue » Fri Jan 06, 2017 12:14 pm

Interesting, It can be a chicken - egg issue, but how do you get people to switch? Give them no choice.

I would ask:

"What network can operate on the least amount of electricity, both at the sending and receiving end?"

That is the important network, in times of emergency. Better keep that one going.

During the last great blackout, many of us relied on cheap battery powered radios to keep up with the news and events Can we purchase a DAB radio for $5.00 that will run on 6 AA batteries?
How about $20.00 tops?

BTW, while I was typing this, the battery died on my wireless keyboard. HA!!!

Best regards,

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Re: Norway To Switch Off FM radio

Postby Marsbar » Fri Jan 06, 2017 4:06 pm

Here is the single sentence in the article that I believe is really the motivator behind this:

For the same cost, digital radio in Norway allows eight times more radio stations than FM.

The same is true of digital radio in North America. Already there are several stations in the Toronto area, using their current frequencies to deliver more than one signal. AM 640 for example is running a digital AM 640 signal beneath their FRESH-FM signal.

If you have a digital radio in your car - tune it to 95.3. Then push a few buttons and up comes AM 640. But this time in glorious digital sound.

Radio owners look at that and can quickly multiply the number of radio stations they can have, with each of those stations selling time for commercials. It's like magic.

The talk of Digital in Canada started way back in the early 2000's. But the debates about systems to use, and other technical talk - took too long. Internet radio slipped right by them, as they were arguing with themselves.

The same is true of Western Europe - where internet radio is much bigger than in North America. Digital is relatively new there.

In all of this however, the discussions of content has been lost. Until major league programmers remember there must be something of interest on the platform - all of this chat is just talk.
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Re: Norway To Switch Off FM radio

Postby Sunbeam » Sun Jan 15, 2017 2:00 am

A fellow at work asked me why I don't have Sirius/XM satellite radio in my truck... they have a 60's, 70's, and 80's channels, blah, blah, blah. And I'm thinking, yeah but it's all narrowcasted 200-song playlists, repeat ad nauseum, thats the reason I don't listen to terrestrial FM stations anymore, except for CBC.

On the road, I mostly listen to Talk 640, and look forward to George Noory on Coast to Coast AM every night. Or CBC Sparks, As It Happens, and Ideas. At home, I listen mostly to, unless I get inspired to dig into my music collection. That doesn't happen on the road, because I refuse to pay mobile data rates.

But I've always thought, (with exceptions) if you're going to drive, drive. If you're going to listen to music, Listen To Music! A vehicle is just not the optimum environment for doing that (with exceptions). Too much background noise. So I tend to listen to talk radio on the road. I have a really nice music playback system at home, and I take listening to music as seriously as one can take a recreational activity. Some would call me an audiophile, some a musicphile, some a technophile. They would all be correct. If I want to listen to music, it will be thru a damn good playback system in a nice listening environment. But I won't be listening to a playlist that repeats every 6 hours.

Sure you can have eight times more radio stations on the same bandwidth, but if they're all playing repetitive homogenized crap, I'm still not listening to any of them.

David Marsden is one of the few programmers that understand that. It's the Content, not the medium. With apologies to Marshall McLuhan. If the content is there, the audience will embrace the medium. Not necessarily vice-versa.
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