FM broadcasting will be switched off by the end of 2024 at the latest

Radio stations in Switzerland will only be available via FM until the end of 2024. Bernard Maissen, OFCOM Vice-Director, explains this on SwissRadioDay in Zurich. He bases his decision on the existing agreement of the radio industry and the legal basis. According to the studies available to OFCOM, at the end of June 2019 only 17 per cent were using this reception channel exclusively.

In December 2014, the Digital Migration Working Group (AG DigiMig) announced that radio broadcasters intended to phase out FM broadcasting by 2024 at the latest. SRG and more than 80 percent of private radio stations agreed to this decision in 2015. In October 2017, the Federal Council adopted the radio industry's target and provided the legal framework for FM switch-off. Bernard Maissen announced on SwissRadioDay that the FM radio licences expiring in December 2019 would be extended until 2024, with the possibility of shortening the duration if the radio industry so wishes. At the same time, OFCOM intends to examine whether individual FM transmitters in peripheral areas with insufficient DAB+ coverage could continue to be operated for a limited period after 2024.

Two thirds of radio usage is already digital – FM consumption falls to 17%

The trend towards digital radio is continuing. Figures collected every six months by research institute GfK on behalf of OFCOM and the Digital Migration Working Group (DigiMig WG) show that use by Swiss citizens of digital radio averaged 65 minutes per 100 radio minutes per day. Digital radio usage has therefore increased by approximately 16 percentage points in three and a half years: from 49% in the autumn of 2015 to 65% in spring 2019. At the same time, FM usage fell by 16 percentage points, from 51 percent to 35%. For the first time DAB+, at 35%, is on a par with FM and has gained 12 percentage points since autumn 2015. The other two methods of digital reception, IP radio and digital TV, have grown by a lesser extent – 4 percent since autumn 2015. Together they constitute 30% of the volume of radio usage.

At home and at work, DAB+ has replaced FM as the most common reception method. Only in cars is FM the most-used reception method (56% of usage). Because more and more cars fitted with a DAB+ radio are travelling on Swiss roads, usage is also continuing to rise. In spring 2019, 38 out of every 100 radio minutes in cars were DAB+-based; this corresponds to a doubling of the share of DAB+.

4.3 Million DAB+ radios sold

In the first half of 2019, 136'400 DAB+ radios were sold (without cars). According to GfK's half-yearly surveys, which cover almost all electronics dealers, this means that since 2000 a total of 4'3 million DAB+ devices have been sold to date.

The radio industry is planning to gradually phase out analogue FM radio broadcasting by the end of 2024 at the latest and to use DAB+ as the main transmission technology instead. In order to support this switchover, OFCOM launched an information campaign in 2017. Since mid-2017, a range of information campaigns under the banner "Radio is changing" have been running in the print media and on radio, television and billboards. More information about DAB+ can be found on the DABPlus website.

Specialist staff
Last modification 11.11.2019

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