Darren Willsher, WorldDAB
Three months after completing the world’s first digital radio switchover, representatives from the Norwegian radio sector came together at Radiodays Europe in Vienna to tell their story to the world.
Sunday afternoon saw an in-depth workshop session, with a panel of speakers reflecting the key stakeholders involved in the DSO process and including public and commercial broadcasters, the regulator, the Ministry of Culture and Digital Radio Norway, who were joined by over 200 delegates from 20 different countries to learn about the switchover process and experience.
The focus of the session was to tell the story of switchover, from the timeline of DAB in Norway through to the latest listening figures and the new stations on -air today from commercial and public broadcasters. “It was a decision made to safeguard radio in the decades to come,” said Jon Branaes, acting head of Radio at public broadcaster NRK. “We can’t wait for IP to save radio.”
Listening figures are being closely watched – 98% of radio listeners have now made the switch to digital, with 3.67m weekly listeners in January 2018 compared to 3.71m in January 2017.
A big area of interest for the audience was in the impact of DSO on commercial stations, and Lasse Kokvik from Bauer Media highlighted that their revenue has been stable throughout the switchover year, and they are now selling advertising across their expanded portfolio of radio stations.
Another area of interest was on converting cars – 1.6m cars in Norway now have digital radio compared with 2.9m who had FM in January 2017, so there’s still work to do. Jarle Ruud from Digital Radio Norway discussed the work taking place with car dealerships and aftermarket manufacturers to help drivers switch, highlighting research from before switchover, which showed that 50% of people said they would wait until after switchover before upgrading their cars.
On Tuesday morning DSO featured prominently in the main conference programme, with a presenters looking back on the DSO year and reporting on the latest listening figures and audience reaction to switchover. One third of listening is taking place on new stations that would not have existed without DAB. “The fact that so many people are listening to the new stations are the proof that the switchover was worth it,” said Kenneth Andresen from P4/MTG Group.
At the Radiodays Europe conference, Digital Radio Norway launched a new report on the switchover process covering the background and history of digital radio, through to the switchover plan, the challenges they faced along the way and what’s next for radio in Norway. The full report in English can be found at http://www.radiodso.com/