14 January, 2017
On January 11, Norway became the first country to begin turning off signals from its FM radio network.
The Norwegian stations will instead use only digital audio broadcasting, called DAB.
FM, or frequency modulation, radio stations have been in operation since the 1950s. Both FM and digital radio have been used in Norway since 1995.
The move to complete digital broadcasting will take about one year, beginning in the northern part of the Scandinavian country. Eventually, every area will have only digital radio, making millions of FM radios useless.
Some Norwegians are not happy about the move to all-DAB radio. One newspaper survey suggested that two-thirds of the population oppose plans to close down the FM network.
Up to 2 million car owners will need to buy special equipment to hear DAB programs, reports the Wall Street Journal. Car radios require an adaptor that costs between $116 and $232.
Mari Hagerup is a spokesperson for Digital Radio Norway. She notes that Norway has a small population. She says the people are spread out over a large area, raising the operating costs of FM radio stations. In addition, she says, broadcasting in both FM and DAB is costly.
She says that DAB radio is the most common household radio in Norway. Eight of every ten Norwegian homes currently has a DAB radio. DAB also has more room to grow, she explains. There were only five national FM channels, with no room for additional channels.
Other European countries are closely watching Norway's move to turn off FM radio signals. Switzerland plans to carry out the same changes in 2020.
An easy transition to digital radio could influence countries such as Britain and Denmark to change to digital-only broadcasting.
I'm John Russell.
Victor Beattie wrote this story for VOANews. John Russell adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
frequency modulation (FM) – n. a system for sending radio signals in which the number of radio waves is changed in order to send information in the form of sound
digital – adj. using or represented by computer technology
transition – n. a change from one state or condition to another
channel – n. a television or radio station