LONDON — At a Digital Radio UK event on March 2 stakeholders from the Norwegian radio industry provided an update to their British counterparts on progress and key learnings from the world’s first digital radio switchover.
As readers of Radio Magazine Today know, Norway was the first country to switch over all of its national radio services to DAB+, turning all the corresponding FM transmitters off at the end of 2017.
“While it is still too early to draw detailed conclusions, government officials and industry were keen to stress the long-term benefits to Norway of boosting choice for listeners and reducing transmission costs to broadcasters,” according to radiocentre.org.
Ashley Tabor (president and founder of Global) also made a statement on the issue of the transition to digital in the UK, essentially agreeing with Bob Sheehan’s statement made during RadioDays Europe, in support of FM, DAB and IP, and that “now is not the time to switch-off FM,” according to the same article.
It’s important that we put this all in context, though.
While Sheehan and Tabor are expressing reservation about switching off FM in the UK, they are still fully committed to DAB there. From Patrick Hannon’s recent blog entry, we are reminded that Sheehan also said “we are fully committed to digital” and that “this sentiment was echoed by Ashley Tabor” of Global. In fact Hannon quotes Tabor in the same blog: “We are delighted to fully support both DAB, and IP delivery of content. We have started many DAB stations on the D1 platform recently, invested in local DAB transmission and invested significant resources in new apps like The Global Player, home to all Global’s stations on mobile and connected devices.”
“The BBC are understandably cautious about switching off FM and they have long argued for any transition to be listener-led — Bob’s announcement that the BBC wishes to retain FM for the time being confirms this position,” according to Hannon (the President of WorldDAB). “Looking forward, any transition to a digital-only future needs to be carefully planned and managed — and needs to involve stakeholders from across the radio ecosystem, including government, Ofcom, carmakers and receiver manufacturers.”
Regarding radio usage in Norway, three months after the national FMs were shut down, a listener survey (Digital Radio Survey, Kantar Media) shows the new digital stations have up to one third of all radio listening. Most radio listeners still tune into radio, and the new digital stations have shown strong growth.
“These are some of the findings presented by a group of Norwegian stakeholders at Radiodays Europe 2018, the radio industry's annual European assembly,” according to radioinfo.com.au.
Listener loyalty has been recorded at 98% versus last year (Jan 2018 vs Jan 2017) on a weekly listening basis. Daily listening has shown a bigger reduction than the weekly listening. 'We are happy and grateful for having most radio listeners still with us. The Norwegian broadcasters did not carry out the digital switchover to gain listeners in the short term, but to retain them in the long run,' says Ole Jorgen Torvmark, CEO of Digitalradio Norway. ”We know that not all listeners have replaced all their FM radios. This means fewer listening opportunities, and explains the drop in daily listening. From our survey, however, we see that listeners, given some time, will gradually develop a new, digital listening pattern,” quoted in the same article.