In its April 2015 codification of this week’s shutdown of all FM signals in Norway, the country’s Minister of Culture, Thorhild Widvey, said, “Radio digitization will open the door to a far greater range of radio channels, benefiting listeners across the country. Listeners will have access to more diverse and pluralistic radio content, and enjoy better sound quality and new functionality. Digitization will also greatly improve the emergency preparedness system, facilitate increased competition and offer new opportunities for innovation and development.”

The Norwegian government also determined that the end of analog broadcasts on the FM band amounts to a cost savings of $23.47 million U.S., “releasing funds for investment in radio content.”

It also argued that digital broadcasters are “far less vulnerable to transmitter failure in extreme conditions and permits tunnel reception of all channels.” It also allows simultaneous transmission of emergency messages on all channels.

At issue is the following criteria: Affordable and technically satisfactory solutions must be available for radio reception in cars.

Had the Norwegian government said such “solutions” were not available in April 2015, the FM switch-off would have been scheduled for 2019.

Nearly two years after that decision, some government leaders are desperately fighting for a delay nevertheless.

“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 two 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.”

That’s why broadcasters in Switzerland, Denmark and the United Kingdom are looking closely at what transpires in the coming days across Norway.

According to the BBC, three national digital multiplexes — the platforms that hold stations — exist. Two are for commercial broadcasters, while one is for the BBC.

U.K. legislation holds that any switch-over from traditional FM frequencies to DAB-only occur only when digital listening has reached 50% of all radio listening and national digital coverage is comparable to that of FM. This puts a possible abandonment of Britain’s FM signals unlikely to occur in the next three years.


The spectre of a mass nationwide shutdown of all FM signals in the U.S. sounds like the stuff of Science-Fiction. As RBR + TVBR reported on Friday (1/6), some 6,746 commercially licensed FM stations can be found in the U.S. and its territories on New Year’s Eve. This is an increase of nine stations since Sept. 30.

Meanwhile, some 4,669 AM radio stations continue to serve listeners across the U.S.