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Norway Is Now the World’s First Country to Eliminate FM Radio

Implementing a move to radio digitization that had been agreed upon by its Parliament in 2011, The New York Times reports that Norway has finally begun a gradual, nationwide initiative to eliminate FM radio broadcast entirely, making it the first country in the world to do so. The process, which was originally estimated to begin in 2015, is expected to be finished by the end of 2017.

This morning, Norway’s national radio networks began the switch to Digital Audio Broadcasting (affectionately known as DAB), beginning with eliminating FM transmission in Bodø, the country’s northernmost city. There are currently 26 DAB/DAB+ stations in the country, and there are DAB-specific radios as well. DAB has its origins in Norway: the first DAB radio station was launched there in 1995.

The cost of FM, according to a Guardian report, is estimated to be 8 times more than digital-only broadcasts in Norway. A study showed that 70% of Norwegians listen to the radio digitally already. The Guardian reports that though all national networks are to make the switch by the end of this year, community and local stations will be able to linger on FM until 2022.

Though the switch may be cost-effective, reports say Norwegians are generally not too excited about the decision. A recent Reuters study demonstrated that only 17 percent of Norwegians are in favor of eliminating FM, and that many of the country’s citizens (2 million, estimated a Norwegian politician) do not have a DAB adapter for their car radio, which generally run somewhere between the kroner equivalent of $175 and $230.

No other country in the world has settled on a radio digitalization initiative, though Switzerland is moving toward transferring entirely to DAB by 2020Britain and Denmark are also transitioning more comprehensively to DAB broadcast, and have discussed plans to eliminate FM entirely.