Norwegian radio goes digital

Norwegian radio is ahead of a shift in technology. The transition to digital is necessary as FM frequencies are saturated and there is no room for competition.

Av Ole Jørgen Torvmark

The digitization gives possibilities for a better radio offer to everyone and ensures innovation. DAB promises more radio stations, noise-free sound, better reception in cars and new functions such as textual information and photos broadcasted to receivers.

Rejuvenation of radio

Radio was the first mass media that was distributed across the country. The first FM transmitters were installed in 1954 and made radio accessible to a bigger audience. Time is now right for rejuvenation, and DAB digital radio presents a lot of possibilities, both to listeners and to those that make radio. There will be at least four times more national radio stations on offer and it will be easier to switch between channels.

In Norway, the DAB technology will also contribute to better radio signals as digital broadcasts are optimized when they reflect in i.e. mountains. To listen to radio in cars will be better, the signals will be more stable and all the radio stations are available through a simple list of station names across the country, there is no longer a need to remember frequencies.

End-of-life

FM is analogue radio, and the frequencies are limited. In some parts of the country there is no room for more radio stations, nor does the technology allow additional data services. Parts of the FM network, especially NRK’s, is also ageing and near its technical due date.

All the big players in the Norwegian radio industry have worked together when it comes to digitization, and have even built the network together. The broadcasters have for years seen the need for a technical upgrade of radio, not to lose out to demanding listeners.

The digitization of radio has been discussed for decades, and was first properly brought to life when the Ministry of Culture in 1996 asked for a thorough report on digital broadcasting. All national FM networks will be switched off in 2017. Ultra-local radio stations are exempt.