The Latest on the FM Switchoff in Norway

More news on the aftermath
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The news from Norway about results of the 2017 (national) FM switch-off continues to come in. I heard from a correspondent in Norway, the well-known broadcast engineer Eivind Engberg, with some late observations.

“The U.S. radio industry would maybe like to know more about the switch off in Norway. Well, here we have the story from Mr. Ole Jørgen Torvmark, the CEO of Digitalradio Norge AS,” Engberg comments.

“First of all – Mr. Torvmark writes to the telecom authority and would like to express concern about free music streaming services, which he believes affect the use of radio streaming services. As he writes: ‘The use of music streaming services like Spotify has been steadily growing for several years, but after the largest population areas in Norway lost the FM broadcast transmissions, the use of these services increased significantly, from 34 to 36% in 2017 to 43% daily use in January 2018.’”

Eivind concludes that this may very well be a consequence of the FM shutdown.

“However — if you open the survey 'Digitalradioundersøkelsen 2018 – strømming,' you will be more shocked:

  • Before the (national) FM switchoff in 2017, 73% of Norwegians used radio daily in the car, 93% used it at least once per week and 97% at least once per month
  • After the switchoff, about a third of listeners are without any way to get DAB. 55% listen to local FM stations (still on-air); 34% use streaming services; 5% listen to FM from neighboring Sweden; 17% chose silence in the car now

(I’m going to assert here that the numbers add up to more than 100% because respondents could use local FMs, Swedish FMs, etc.—Doug Irwin)

How are sales of DAB radios doing in Norway? Well, according to this financial analysis of the chain Mekonomen, not that great. “The first quarter was challenging for the Mekonomen Group. As we communicated already April 9, 2018, we were negatively affected by significantly lower sales of DAB products in Norway and fewer weekdays due to the time of Easter, together with weak Swedish krona," writes CEO Pehr Oscarson in the report. During the first quarter, a write-down of DAB products in inventories was made which had a negative effect of SEK 20 million on earnings.”

Eivind made one final comment: “ in Norway will be dead in 2022 if they force local radio off FM. I do really hope NO other countries follow Norway here…”

An earlier version of this article misspelled Eivind Engberg's last name.