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News story about the indefinite postponement of DAB digital radio switchover in Norway, written by Grant Goddard in January 2011 for Grant Goddard: Radio Blog.
NEWS: IN NORWAY, DIGITAL
In November 2010, a daily newspaper in Denmark reported that the government’s plan for
digital radio switchover had been postponed indefinitely [see my earlier blog]. Now, the same
is reported to have happened in Norway.
“The transition from analogue to digital radio began more than ten years ago. At the
end of 2010, we still have no idea what is going on,” said the headline in Norwegian
daily newspaper Aftenposten.
In 2009, then culture minister Trond Giske had promised that the Norwegian government
would publish a white paper in 2010 on digital radio switchover [see my earlier blog]. It has
failed to appear.
“Recently, it has become clear that the strategy had to be postponed indefinitely,” said
Ib Thomsen, cultural affairs spokesman for the Progress party, said: “This is undoubtedly a hot
political potato and DAB is, in many ways, a risky sport.” He believes that it is wrong to
compare the migration of digital radio with digital television switchover, as many do, because
the number of radios in use is much greater.
“Nevertheless, we should not set a [switchover] date in order to go out and force
people to buy new radios,” Thomsen said.
Olemic Thommsessen, cultural policy spokesman for the Conservative party, said: “I am more
concerned with getting the policy on the table so that we can advance work on planning a
digital radio future.”
He noted that it had been a long time since the government’s last review of digital radio
strategy, and that subsequent development of DAB and DAB receiver sales had not lived up to
Trine Schei Grande, leader of the Liberal party, said: “The time is over when politicians can
decide how people will listen to the radio.”
She believes that the only way to get listeners to invest in digital radio is to make digital
content and stations sufficiently attractive. Until then, she said, FM transmissions must be
Øyvind Vasaasen, distribution manager of state broadcaster NRK, said it would not be a very
costly issue for NRK to broadcast DAB+ transmissions, should it be required by the
government. He emphasised that NRK had a continuing obligation to serve those who had
already bought DAB radios that do not support the newer DAB+ standard.
“These can be addressed by broadcasting in both DAB and DAB+ for a period,” he said.
The possibility of the government switching from the DAB to the DAB+ standard was taken up
by a commentary in Aftenposten, whose headline asked: “Your new, expensive DAB radio
may be useless in a few years. What is really happening?” It explained:
“The problem is that there are already more than 300,000 DAB radios in the country.
NRK distribution manager Øyvind Vasaasen had said that NRK has a contract with
listeners who have already bought a DAB radio, and which makes it difficult to switch
[to DAB+]. What about all those who listen on one of the country’s 15+ million FM
radios? Does NRK not have a contract with them? And what of DAB users who feel
they had signed the contract without full disclosure?”
The commentary continued:
”When [state broadcaster] NRK had argued for a transition from FM to DAB, it had
said that the DAB system would give us CD-quality audio from the radio. It has not.
News: In Norway, Digital Radio Switchover "Postponed Indefinitely" page 2
©2011 Grant Goddard
News: In Norway, Digital Radio Switchover "Postponed Indefinitely" page 3
©2011 Grant Goddard
DAB technology does allow very high sound quality, but most stations use lower sound
quality than FM, according to University of Oslo professor Sverre Holm. Many people
find the [DAB] sound clearer and less harsh, but many also complain of less detail and
poorer stereo image. Moreover, no local radio station can afford the investment of over
half a million kroner to broadcast on DAB, so that the diversity we were promised has
not become a reality.”
Even DAB lobbyists are acknowledging the slow take-up achieved to date. Jørn Jensen,
president of World DMB, the international marketing organisation for DAB, told Germany’s
“Digital radio is still in its infancy. If we compare the situation to the computer market,
we are still in the time of MS-DOS!”
[First published by Grant Goddard: Radio Blog as 'Norway: Digital Radio Switchover "Postponed Indefinitely"', 4
Grant Goddard is a media analyst / radio specialist / radio consultant with thirty years of
experience in the broadcasting industry, having held senior management and consultancy
roles within the commercial media sector in the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. Details at