NAB’s post-Norway promise to FM in the U.S.: “A thousand times No”

nab logo canvasAs we reported, Norway has started turning off its nationally operated FM transmitters and switching radio stations across the country over to DAB digital. Norway is the first country in Europe to start a mandatory switch-over, though contemplated (and in some cases planned) by others.

Any nationwide shutdown of FM broadcasting is certainly a milestone. In an era when first-movers signal future mainstream, it’s natural for U.S. broadcasters to get the shivers. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) addressed the matter head on.

“No. No. A thousand times — No,” wrote Chief Operating Officer Chris Ornelas in a post on the NAB’s policy blog.

The three main reasons listed by Ornelas point out differences in scale, ownership, and technology. To quote his bullet points:

  • Norway has 5 million radio listeners; there are 268 million listeners in the U.S. every week;
  • Many of Norway’s radio stations are state-owned; in the U.S., commercial radio listening dominates the charts in most places.
  • Norway is converting to digital radio using a completely different technology than we are in the U.S.

Chris Ornelas also notes that there is some pushback in Norway; about two-million cars do not have DAB receivers.

He also promotes the U.S. HD Radio system, which enjoys a broad footprint in the American car fleet and uses identical spectrum for analog and digital.

Read the lengthy reassurance here.

Brad Hill