Faced with criticism, Norway moves forward on plan to phase out FM radio

Norway’s plan to end FM radio kicks off today, as planned. The move will shift the country’s remaining national analog stations to Digital Audio Broadcasting by year’s end, part of a cost-saving measure for a small country with many natural obstacles that have proven expensive to bring signal to its five million residents.

The Norwegian government has moved ahead with the plan, citing the 70 percent of homes that currently have access to digital receivers. As critics of the plan have pointed out, however, two million-plus car listeners still lack the proper technology to receive digital broadcasts.

As The Guardian points out, that number is especially troubling given the heavy reliance upon radio traffic and other emergency reports, particularly during winter storms. The country has already phased out medium and long-range transmitters.

“Norway is not prepared for this,” a representative from the Norwegian Local Radio Association told the BBC. “There are millions of radios in homes, cottages and boats that won’t work anymore and only around 25 percent of cars in Norway have digital radios or adapters.”

The governmental cost savings would ultimately come at the expense of listeners, forced to spend $170 for an adapter or hundreds of dollars to replace their radio entirely. While national stations are expected to phase out FM entirely by the end of the year, local stations have a total of five years to make the move.