Norway will become the first country to switch off its traditional FM radio network and go completely digital next week, amid criticism that the move may have been rushed. Other European countries including the UK are said to be keeping a close watch on the move’s consequence.
Critics say many people may miss warnings on emergencies that have until now been broadcast via the radio. There are nearly two million cars in Norway that are not equipped with digital audio broadcasting (DAB) receivers and this move will hit them badly. Digital Radio Norway estimates say 7.9 million radio sets will be affected by the switch and an adapter to switch an FM car radio to a DAB system may cost 1,500 Norwegian crowns ($174.70),
Additionally, an opinion poll published by the Norwegian daily Dagbladet last month showed 66% of Norwegians opposed the move.
The government, however, has been completely on board with the decision, which was first proposed in parliament in 2011 and got the final go-ahead last month. The government decided to make the change as it estimated the cost of FM to be eight times higher than digital radio. The money saved after digitisation is implemented can be spent on improving radio content according to the government.
“Radio digitization will open the door to a far greater range of radio channels, benefiting listeners across the country,” former Minister of Culture Thorhild Widvey said in a statement in 2015.