There’s a lot of feelings for the old radios in Norway: Digital Radio CEO

One of our most commented-on international reports this year has been Norway’s switch over to digital radio.

The proponents of the analog switch off have put forward the benefits of going fully digital, such as lower costs and more channels, but, judging by some of the comments on our pages, not everyone in Norway is as convinced as those who have organised the switch over.

So radioinfo took the opportunity during Radio Days Europe to ask Ole Jorgen Torvmark, the CEO of Digital Radio Norway for some more details.

Ole Jorgen says, when people understand the reasons for switching to digital they come to realise why it is necessary, but he acknowledges that some people are not happy to give up their old analog radios.

“There’s a lot of feelings for the old radios, that’s for sure, but when people try the new offerings they really like it. More than half use the new channels every week, they have become very popular.

“So when people have tried it they really like it, but before you try them you can be annoyed [to throw out your old radio] because your old radio still works…

“When people are so attached to their radio sets that means radio is important to them… something about radio is important, that’s a good thing for radio.”

While the national broadcaster has the critical mass to make a success of the switch over, there are 90 community stations in Norway and they do not necessarily have the critical mass or the money to go digital as quickly as the national broadcaster. Ole Jorgen says they will get help from a government subsidy for their transmission.

For the next five years, community stations will be able to choose if they want to stay on FM or convert quickly to digital. After the five years, they will be obliged to go digital.

“There has of course been criticism, that’s not very strange because it is a big shift, so it would be strange if people didn’t engage and ask questions, this shows they really care. When people understand that we are doing this to make radio continue to be a strong free media for everyone they understand why it is necessary.”

With a small population and not enough money to fund double distribution on analog and digital, the decision was made to save money by switching off analog, and use that money to fund new content.

View the full video below.

While the critics of digital radio in Norway are very vocal, the stats so far, shortly after the analog radio switch off, support the proposition that the population is likely to transition to the new digital platform eventually.

In Nordland county, these are the statistics, with current figures shown first and previous figures (before switch off) shown in brackets:
·       Number of DAB radios total:  224,000  (previously 165,000)
·       Number of DAB in car:  53.000  (previously 39.000)
·       Total radio listening:  64% (previously 74%)
·       Reach of total radio listening, DAB:  81% (previously 57%)
·       Reach of total radio listening, Internet Radio:  28% (previously 28%)
·       Reach of total radio listening digital television:  22% (previously 20%)
·       Reach of total radio listening, accumulated digital:  86% (previously 75%)
·       Reach of total radio listening, only via FM:  14% (previously 25%) *


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