Swedish Government Stops Digital Radio

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The Swedish government has announced it will not go forward with plans to replace FM with digital DAB+ broadcasting.

In an article in the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, the Swedish culture minister Alice Bah Kuhnke says that there isn’t enough support for introducing digital radio. Among the main reasons for keeping FM is that 10 million FM receivers would have to be replaced.

The culture minister also points to concerns from the Swedish defense, which uses some of the DAB frequencies, and that there are some reports that the planned DAB networks wouldn’t have the same coverage area as the current FM networks.

The minister hasn’t ruled out a future digitalization of radio, however. The government will follow the international development of DAB, with a focus on Norway which will shut down most of FM broadcasting in 2017.

The plan to replace FM with DAB was presented in December. It proposed a national launch of DAB in late 2016 and that public service radio and commercial radio should stop using FM in 2022.

The decision by the Swedish government, a coalition between Social Democrats and Greens, wasn’t welcomed by the radio industry.

“It’s regrettable for the Swedish radio audience that the expansion of digital radio has been postponed. The FM band is full and there will be a need for a terrestrial broadcasting network for a long time forward. Internet-based IP radio will be important, but will never replace a terrestrial network” says Cilla Benkö, the director-general of Sweden’s public radio broadcaster Sveriges Radio.

“We see that in countries where the digital terrestrial network has been brought into full use in a competitive market, radio listening is up both in reach and time spent listening. This is happening thanks to the availability of new, exciting stations. In Sweden, we haven’t seen the same growth” Cilla Benkö continues.

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