Norway officially switched over to DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) on a nationwide basis this week, but that doesn’t mean FM radios are only full of static around the country. Nearly 200 local FM radio stations are allowed to keep broadcasting through 2022, while DAB dislikers and FM defenders are starting up pirate broadcasts as well.
The chief of national state-controlled broadcaster NRK shut down its last FM radio transmitter for Norway’s northernmost counties of Troms and Finnmark and for Svalbard on Wednesday, forcing all those keen on listening to NRK and other national commercial broadcasters to switch to DAB. Both commercial national broadcasters P4 and Radio Norge had to turn off their FM transmitters last weekend.
NRK officials claimed all those who felt compelled to invest in new DAB radios now have more stations to choose from overall, with access to what they called “the world’s best radio offering around the country.” Not everyone agrees.
Those clinging to their FM radios still have various locally broadcast commercial and special-interest stations from which to choose, at least for a few more years, and more may start up. Many Norwegians remain angry over the DAB switchover, with newspaper Aftenposten reporting pirate broadcasts now starting up in the heart of Oslo.
“This is my protest against the DAB madness,” one activist told Aftenposten. DAB protest groups have formed on social media. One station was streaming foreign online radio broadcasts over an FM frequency using illegal transmitters, at least two of which are placed somewhere in Oslo.
Officials at Norway’s national communications authority (Nkom) aren’t pleased and have already tracked down some transmitters and shut them down. “All use of an FM frequency requires permission,” John-Eivind Velure of Nkom told Aftenposten.
Various stations could still be heard on the FM dial in Oslo Thursday morning, some of them legal, some of them not. Pirates’ so-called “unregistered use of radio frequencies” have also been picked up in Bergen, Tønsberg, Ålesund, Fredrikstad and Førde.