Norway plans to cut off all FM radio broadcasts during 2017, transitioning entirely to digital, according to a report from the Ministry of Culture (from The Hollywood Reporter).
"This is an important day for everyone who loves radio," said Thor Gjermund Eriksen, head of public broadcasting network NRK. "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 might seem like an evil to everyone who's grown up listening to FM radio but the benefits are numerous. For one, according to consultations done by Norway's Ministry of Culture, broadcasting the nation's public radio stations via Digital Audio Broadcasting will cost one-eighth the price of FM broadcasts. That will total more than $25 million a year saved...all American fans of National Public Radio can imagine how much less often they'd need to hear fundraising announcements if the United States were to go digital.
Currently, Norway broadcasts 22 national channels digitally (compared to five on FM) and has the potential to launch up to 20 more channels.
The move will make Norway the first nation to completely abandon the FM system. The nation has always been at the forefront of DAB radio, having launched the first digital channel during 1995. The shift in formats will require an update in technology for many listeners, yet a Gallup study indicated that 55 percent of Norwegian citizens already own a DAB-ready system, much more than their American counterparts.
Not that American listeners need to worry about a change in broadcast formats coming anytime soon. Thus far the interest in DAB has stuck largely to Europe, as other Scandinavian nations and the UK are reportedly considering conversion...by 2022 at the earliest.
As for the quality of transmissions...CNET compared digital radio to "what digital television is to your standard analog TV.