Norway is the first country to begin the process of completely transitioning off of AM/FM radio. The country will be using DAB (digital audio broadcasting) to replace the FM radio system, and will shut down all of the FM broadcasting by December 2017. Norway might not be the only country undergoing this transition, similar proposals are under consideration in Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Signs pointing towards the transition away from terrestrial radio have been apparent recently. Currently, Norway is primarily using the DAB system as a solution to FM radio signal being ineffective in many parts of the country due to the mountain ranges that cover most of the nation.
While many are excited for the potential for higher quality audio, there is some pushback, as many cars are not currently equipped to receive DAB signal. This means almost 2.3 million people might not have radio signal to their cars if they can’t afford to upgrade to the newer system.
Thorid Widvey, the Norwegian Minister of Culture, released a press statement thoroughly supporting the decision to transition to DAB, despite some negative feedback.
“Listeners will have access to more diverse and pluralistic radio content, and enjoy better sound quality and new functionality. Digitization will also greatly improve the emergency preparedness system, facilitate increased competition and offer new opportunities for innovation and development.”
Will this affect artists?
Previously, in 2016, Norway required FM radio stations to play a minimum of 35% of Norwegian made music. As FM transitions to DAB, that is no longer required. There are concerns radio play will turn more international with the transition and projected losses for Norwegian artists being placed around the $6 million mark.
Should the U.S. consider following suit?
Currently, in the United States, AM/FM have no ‘performance rights’ for being played on the radio. Despite radio stations making money from advertising, artists do not actively receive compensation for plays. They’re considered ‘public performances’, and only songwriters will receive royalties for playtime. Thus, in the U.S., artists would not be affected in the same way as they will be in Norway by the change.
If Norwegian artists were to write their own music, which many smaller artists do, they would receive the royalties. However, currently it’s difficult for small artists to get on broadcast radio when there are only 5 national FM channels available in Norway. This limits the diversity and curation of musical content. The new DAB system, however, can provide up to 45 different national stations, and allow for smaller artists to get more play time.
Here at Four Over Four, we’d say – it’s not a bad idea to diversify the radio a bit. We definitely wouldn’t mind.
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