Norway to become first country to switch off FM radio in 2017

In what will likely be the first of a global transition to digital radio, Norway has announced it will switch off its FM band, becoming the first country to do so. Norway will start turning off FM radio on January 11, 2017, and plans to stop transmission of the last FM signal to the country’s northernmost regions by Dec. 13 of that year. The move is intended to save money and allow a full transition to digital radio, which Norway argues will give listeners “access to more diverse and pluralistic radio content and enjoy better sound quality and new functionality.”

Ultimately the goal would be to move to digital since other technologies are moving to digital and you don’t want to, long term, be the only analog player on the digital block.

Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of communications for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington D.C.

Norway has long been a digital radio pioneer. NRK launched the world’s first DAB channel on June 1, 1995. Other Scandinavian countries as well as the U.K. are thought to be considering an FM switch-off by 2022. The digital rollout in other European countries has been slower, with old FM radio still proving more popular in several territories.