BODØ, Norway — With the national-FM shutdown starting yesterday in Norway’s Nordland county, it’s fair to ask how the first day went.
The event was broadcast live on television with international press and radio people from around the world present, including a television crew for Vice News, an HBO channel based in London that is seen in the United States, according to radionytt.no. It started with fanfare of horns from Radio Orchestra and there was more music with the North Norwegian artist Kristian Kristensen.
In social media, criticism was intense for the days leading up to the shutdown and “for the last few days and it was no less yesterday” according to the same article. “Many people write that they feel compelled to spend money on new DAB radios, others write that they will henceforth only listen to local radio, while others believe that one does not need more channels.”
Our observer in Norway, the radio Engineer Eivind Engberg, told me what he has noticed so far. “...there are some reactions already and most negative all the way. If I read commentaries after every article about [the] FM Switchoff - either it is positive or negative angle on the article - all the commentaries are negative. This is not what the listeners want.”
Eivind also pointed out an op-ed piece in the online news source vol.no by the reader Cristoffer Ellingsen. “Extinguishing nationwide FM is an authority assaulting people and forcing people, businesses and media companies such as local radio to major additional costs that far exceed what it costs to maintain FM another few years. There is talk of an annual national amount of 200 million [Kroner] [to leave] FM on...FM [would] still... be able to operate [on] local radio some years to come. For us in Vesterålen most still get into BØ radio on FM in some years. Why [the] national channels [cannot] also continue [is] difficult to understand.”
Translations are not always 100% clear—Ellingsen is suggesting that the cost to the public to replace FM radios far exceeds the 200M Kroner (about $24M) savings to the government (when comparing the cost of running the FM networks to that of the DAB networks). To be fair, though, radios need to be replaced just once, while the Government will continue to save money every year for years to come.