back to article Digital killed the radio star: Norway names FM switchoff date

Norway is claiming a world first: having successfully implemented digital radio, the country has announced the dates for a progressive FM radio shutdown. The end will come during 2017, says the country's Ministry of Culture, which has announced that the conditions it set down in 2011 have been met. Instead of the five …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "That saving will amount to NOK 200 million – around US$25.5 million – which the ministry hopes will go back into content production instead."

    Puh-lease. We all know where those savings will go. NEW TAXES!

  2. Clive Harris

    Time Signals

    Do they still broadcast time signals on the digital channels? Given the significant and variable time lag inherent in digital broadcasting and decoding, I wonder how they would do that.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Time Signals

      The pips rebroadcast are going to be inaccurate, but DAB spec includes a time sync signal that your receiver can use to synchronise its local clock to NAD accurate. If your receiver implements this properly then it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to generate local pips from the local clock.

      Unfortunately some software clocks on some DAB receivers check the time sync every hour, and drift wildly over the interim. This is improving on later sets, interestingly cheapo unknown brand radios seem to get this right, syncing much more often.

      1. Gannettt

        Re: Time Signals

        Great idea, but if this happened, JoHn Humpries would be crashing the pips more often!

  3. MacroRodent

    DAB, what is that?

    Here in Finland, the experimental DAB broadcasts were stopped 10 years ago, since nobody was interested. No wonder. FM is good enough, and the receivers are practically free.

    What irks me is they also stopped the last remaining AM transmitter near Helsinki. Now I cannot build a crystal radio with my kid... :-(

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: DAB, what is that?

      Nobody was interested since DAB radios were really expensive back then, FM is/was good enough, and no commercial station participated. The incentive to move - a couple new YLE DAB-only stations and that's it - were not even close enough to entice people to move.

      Also, replacing the embedded radios in car entertainment centers - how expensive or even feasible would that be?

      The future looks like streaming to me since pretty much the whole country is covered by 3G already, and even the remote Lapland parts could be covered with less cost than the move to DAB.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Emergency announcements?

        "There will also be benefits for the country's emergency services, since emergency announcements can be simultaneously broadcast on all digital channels."

        They do that a lot in Norway?

        1. Mage

          Re: Emergency announcements?

          That can be done easily on VHF-FM.

    2. Irony Deficient Silver badge

      Re: DAB, what is that?

      MacroRodent, are there any powerful enough AM transmitters near Tallinn from which transmissions could be received at your home?

      1. MacroRodent

        Re: DAB, what is that?

        The strongest AM stations I hear on a regular radio in Helsinki seem to be all in Russian. I am not sure if their signal is strong enough for a simple chrystal radio. Perhaps with a good outdoor antenna. The old Helsinki station could be received with just a couple of meters of wire indoors.

  4. hplasm

    Oh noe

    This will only encourage the DAB-pushing clowns over here.

    1. bill 36

      Re: Oh noe

      Its not just DAB-pushing clowns we have to worry about. There are whole herds of "its new so it must be good" nutters out there, trying to make us believe that driverless cars for example are the way forward. Or even electric cars for that matter.

      Fucking NUTTERS

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        @bill 36: Was kinda with you until... started ranting about driverless and electric cars. At which point your argument went pear-shaped and you came across as a bit of a tit.

        BTW DAB is neither "new" nor "good". That boat sailed some 20 years ago.

        1. bill 36

          Re: @bill 36: Was kinda with you until...

          Well you are entitled to call me a "bit of a tit" Jimmy2cows but i am entitled to my opinion.

          So for what its worth from a tit here goes.

          The car industry worldwide is worth billions if not trillions when supporting industries are factored in. They therefore have a vested interest in making sure that we are induced into buying personal transport of some description ie; a car. suv or whatever.

          They are facing huge pressures to clean up their act, reduce emissions, reduce fossil fuel consumption etc etc.

          So much so that by 2020 in Europe ALL manufacturers must average 95g/km. Note the average word.

          Now we find ourselves being persuaded that electric cars are a good thing and very few of the "Nutters" are asking why. Well here's the answer.

          All of them can easily hit the average by producing electric vehicles while still churning out the gas guzzlers. The problem is, they have to sell them. Roll out the marketing men.

          Theres nothing at all wrong with electric vehicles in the sense of reducing air pollution in cities but they are not the answer for lots of reasons which are pretty self evident i think.

          Batteries and the disposal of, charging, power supply etc etc. (we will need enormous amounts of power, probably nuclear) These are major issues, the cost of which is being laid off onto the buyers with the carrot of low tax and buying subsidy.

          As for driver-less cars, here are just a few examples. Roadworks and diversions, floods, blizzards, trailers.....

          Thats my tuppence worth so for all you Nutters out there...have a nice day and enjoy your heavily depreciating Twizzy.

          1. bill 36

            Re: @bill 36: Was kinda with you until...

            And i forgot

            DAB is still being pushed down our throats 20 years later, was a turkey then and still is, in the same way that electric cars are.

            Rant over :>)

          2. Hairy Spod

            Re: @bill 36: Was kinda with you until...

            we dont really need that much more electricity to power an electric car over a petrol one - about 6KW of electricity goes into refining each gallon of petrol, its a niggling little point that gets overlooked in most debates like this....

            Electric cars are not the sole answer, you wont really find anyone claiming that they are, but they are a very useful step towards some very laudible goals, both economic, political and environmental ones.

            1. Jonski

              Re: @bill 36: Was kinda with you until...

              I think you meant 6kWh, not 6KW which is a different measure altogether if it technically exists at all, but on your point (energy used in refining petroleum) a good understandable analysis can be found at Worth a read.

      2. Hairy Spod

        Re: Oh noe

        I have a petrol car and an electric car, the electric car IS hands down better all round.

        I'm with you on every other point though

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All hail analogue switch off

    So what exactly are the Norwegians (lovely people that they are) going to do with this empty block of spectrum? No one internationally has proposed another use for this block?

    Surely the DAB frequencies could be put to other use (DTT anyone?) and keep FM going?

    Or do they want to go digital for the sake of going digital aka Steve Bong?

    1. Mike Banahan

      Re: All hail analogue switch off

      What will happen to the frequencies when FM is switched off? My guess is that it will be a bonanza for pirate broadcasters and the authorities will have the devil's own game to clear the channels for any other purpose - it may be years before much else can be squeezed in there, a whole generation will have to pass before people stop using cheap FM receivers with battery life counted in more than minutes.

  6. Mage


    It's about MONEY.

    Not about the consumer or Public Services.

    Complete idiots that have given the Broadcasting keys to Bean counters. Digital TV works. Digital Radio (no matter how it's done) is inherently a poorer system than AM, never mind FM.

    The People need to rise up and complain. It's not as if the spectrum is even any use for anything else. If they want to save money and have more stations then extend FM down to 76MHz and turn off power hungry Digital Radio, which uses x6 power for the consumers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Savings

      Yes, I doubt the Norwegian Government has been inundated by letters from angry radio listeners demanding that FM be turned off.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    given the geography of a large part of Norway what is the coverage like? Here by the coast in sunny Cornwall its shocking! We get our TV from a relay so we only get 14 (count em!) 14 Digital TV channels! and no DAB

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What transmission format do they use?

    Does Norway use DAB (i.e. would radios which work in Britain work in Norway), or did they opt for a different version? One which works, perhaps?

    1. Gerry 3

      Re: What transmission format do they use?

      Norway uses a mixture of DAB and DAB+.

      Most digital radios in the UK are DAB only: some have DAB+ which has been crippled to save a few pennies, and some really do have DAB+ (typically newer car radios and internet radios). Radios with a Digital Tick will have DAB+, but who has ever seen this scheme being promoted?

      So British radios would work in Norway but you'd probably have only a restricted choice.

  9. JP19

    "big saving available for broadcasters"

    And significant costs for consumers scrapping and replacing existing radios and keeping the new ones fed with batteries?

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: "big saving available for broadcasters"

      And just which twat came up with the idea of making them incompatible with rechargeable batteries. I was given a DAB radio which is no use in the house so I took it up the pollytunnel only to discover that it lasts 10 minutes on rechargeable batteries. I've heard many other similar problems.

      Some fuckers seem to have gone out of their way to ensure we have to buy expensive batteries! This seems to count for a lot of battery powered devices too.

      1. bonkers

        Re: "big saving available for broadcasters"

        "Taking up the pollytunnel" is possibly not quite what the manufacturer had in mind for it.

        Glad to hear you got ten minutes out of it though.

  10. Phil Koenig

    Obsolescence and corporatocracy

    Of course these apparatchiks and technocrats don't seem capable of comprehending how a fundamental communication technology that has been part of the world for ~60 years can just be turned off in short order and not impact all the people who have this technology embedded in all sorts of devices and equipment that WILL NEVER get updated to be compatible with DAB. Just like the bimbos in the USA that thought that adding a few weeks to daylight savings time would "save electricity" (studies have proven this is nonsense now) while immediately obsoleting all sorts of equipment with embedded clocks which were pre-programmed with the old switchover dates. (Including minor little things like building control and security systems, etc.)

    All the nonsense about questionable DAB audio quality and changing/incompatible codecs/ECC also demonstrates once more the tunnel-vision of people who couldn't fathom the need for eg software-definable radios that could adapt to the future codec-du-jour.

    Which leaves us at the "savings" part - which of course in my country will undoubtedly translate into corporate $PROFIT$, not anything likely to benefit the average punter. And to those who say we will all just migrate to digital streaming - A) unicast streaming media is the most ridiculously inefficient way of broadcasting content to the public ever devised, and B) this just throws us even more at the mercy of the wireless data oligopolists, which of course are the very same entities eager to realize these "savings".

  11. JimWin

    Reception issues???

    Given the famously mountainous terrain and fjords, how did they get the signal reach for DAB? Or is it a case of "Sorry, there is no reception at this time" for remote towns and villages? If they do have full coverage, we need to understand how they got there and if it is practical and economic. Maybe lots of micro repeaters for the valleys. A brave move if it's been done well.

    1. BongoJoe

      Re: Reception issues???

      Not all of Norway is mountainous and riddled with fjords. When I lived in and around Oslo, I would come back to the UK and be glad to see some proper mountains in Snowdonia.

      Yes, Bergen is on the edge of a rather large cliff but one would assume that the PTB would shove a transmitter above the city and the same for the major population centres.

      Imaging that all of Norway is full of mountains and fjords is like thinking that all of Wales is like The Valleys.

  12. Sarah Balfour


    An article about Norway, and things which are easing to be and I can't fathom out how to bring parrots into the conversation.

    I'm slacking.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Feeling blue about that?

    Obviously you are a sick as a parrot.

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