September 17, 2021

This Week in Amateur Radio

North America's Premiere Amateur Radio News Magazine

Switzerland delays FM shutdown

It had been planned for Switzerland to shutdown all FM broadcasters in 2022/3 but it has now been decided to delay until 2024

A press release from the Digital Migration Working Group Digimig says:

The Swiss radio broadcasters have decided to complete the shutdown as originally planned on 31 December 2024. At this time, the VHF radio licences will also expire. From this date, therefore, no programs can be broadcast via FM. With the return to the original shutdown date, consumers will also have more time to change technology.

In 2014, Swiss radios agreed to switch off FM broadcasting of their programmes by 2024 at the latest. Since at the end of last year almost three quarters of radio usage was digital, the radio industry came to the conclusion that under these conditions an early and staggered shutdown of FM stations in August 2022 (SRG) and in January 2023 (private radios) would be responsible. This was agreed by 42 out of 44 radio broadcasters and SRG.

In recent weeks, the FM shutdown has been publicly discussed. In German-speaking Switzerland and Italian-speaking Switzerland, the vast majority of radio broadcasters are still in favour of the premature shutdown of FM. In French-speaking Switzerland, however, it was not possible to find a sufficient majority in the concrete implementation. Since a nationwide solution is needed, the radios have therefore returned to their original plan to switch off the FM stations on 31 December 2024. In addition, the latest market figures indicate that listeners need more time for the changeover. With this shift, consumers, especially those who drive a car, have more time to change technology. In Switzerland, the proportion of new vehicles suitable for DAB+ has been almost 100 percent since 2020. There is a need for retrofitting, especially in older cars that have no reception via DAB+ or other digital channels. Corresponding retrofit kits are available on the market in various price ranges. Since 2019, new cars from the EU must also have a reception option via DAB+ as standard in Switzerland.

The radio industry is aware that FM has no future after 2024. The existing concessions will expire at the end of 2024. From this point on, FM programmes can no longer be distributed in Switzerland.

By the end of 2024, the framework conditions for DAB+ will have improved again. The digitization of radio use will continue to increase until the shutdown date, there will be even more devices on the market, and the retrofitting of cars will continue to make progress.

The postponement of the FM shutdown to the originally planned date of 31.12.2024 is associated with costs in the multi-digit millions for the radio broadcasters. No radio broadcaster can afford the double distribution of the programmes via both FM and DAB+ in the long term and makes little sense from an ecological point of view.

Source press release
https://www.presseportal.ch/de/pm/100086886/100876267

via Southgate: http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2021/august/switzerland-delays-fm-shutdown.htm