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Norway to kill FM radio dead in 2017

FM radio is coming to an end, at least in Norway.

The Scandinavian country of five million just announced that it will be entirely shutting off its FM radio signals completely and utterly on January 11, 2017. According to Radio.no, Norwegian radio listeners will be able to access radio content through Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) instead. It will be the first country to entirely turn off FM radio.

“Listeners will have access to more diverse and pluralistic radio-content and enjoy better sound quality and new functionality,” said Norway’s Minister of Culture Thorhild Widvey in a statement.

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The reasoning behind this is two-fold: the current popularity of DAB in Norway and the cost savings of digitizing national radio. As Radio.no notes, 56 percent of Norwegians use digital radio every day via a TNS Gallup poll. Digitizing Norway’s national radio channels will save more than 200 million Norweigian Krone, according to the Ministry of Culture statement.

“This is an important day for everyone who loves radio,” said head of Norwegian Broadcasting Company Thor Gjermund Eriksen. “The minister’s decision allows us to concentrate our resources even more upon what is most important, namely to create high quality and diverse radio-content to our listeners.”

This change comes as a result of a 2011 white paper suggesting a switch to DAB when at least half of radio listeners use DAB instead of FM signals. 7.9 million radio sets in Norway will be affected by the change, although FM radios can be upgraded (or recycled).

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It’s worth noting that Norway has long led the way for digital radio. The country launched the world’s first DAB channel in 1995, and it currently offers 22 national channels (as opposed to five on FM). NRK has 99.5 percent coverage on DAB in Norway, while commercial radio has 92.8 percent coverage on DAB.

The Radio.no report mentions that several countries in Europe and Southeast Asia may convert radio to DAB technology in the coming years.