The FM transmitters will be phased out in 2022/23

The radio industry has agreed to implement the migration from FM to digital broadcasting via DAB+ in 2022 and 2023. The members of the radio associations and the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR approved the planned procedure. The SRG SSR will switch off its FM transmitters in August 2022 and the private radio stations by January 2023 at the latest.

On 21 December 2020, the "Verband Schweizer Privatradios" (VSP), the "Union Romande des Radios Régionales" (RRR), the "Union nicht-gewinnorientierter Lokalradios" (Unikom) and the SRG SSR announced that the decision had been approved by a large majority in all parts of the country. The phase-out is being implemented based on positive signals from the market and the development of usage figures. Under the phase-out plan, the SRG SSR would decommission its FM transmitters in August 2022 to make it easier for commercial operators to switch over. The private radio stations are then due to deactivate their FM transmitters in January 2023.

OFCOM to implement the radio industry’s decommissioning plan
In the last few years, the Federal Council has created the legal framework for the changeover from analogue FM technology to DAB+. During the transitional phase and through to the decommissioning of FM, moreover, it is providing radio broadcasters with substantial financial support for promoting DAB+. During a time window that is to last for several years, the Federal Council is leaving it to the radio industry to organise the changeover from FM to DAB+ itself. OFCOM has agreed that it will accept the decommissioning dates decided by the industry as a binding obligation and cancel the FM broadcasting licences with effect from the dates agreed.

71 percent listening digitally
Since autumn 2015, GfK Switzerland has been mandated by AG DigiMig to assess the level of radio usage in Switzerland every six months. The eleventh (spring 2020) survey showed that usage of digital radio has risen by 22 percentage points since 2015: for 71 out of 100 minutes of daily listening, radio listeners use digital means to receive broadcasts (DAB+: 39%, internet and cable TV: 32%). At the same time, FM usage has dropped by 22 percentage points to 29%. By June 2020, only 13 percent of the Swiss population were using analogue FM radio only.

DAB+ now the most popular form of reception in cars too
It is not only for listeners at home or at work that DAB+ is the most popular way to receive radio programmes. In cars – the last bastion of FM radio – DAB+ has also taken over from FM as the principal means of receiving radio broadcasts. Among motorists, reception of transmissions via DAB+ or internet radio now accounts for 55 percent of total usage.

Five-million barrier breached
According to surveys conducted by GfK, sales of DAB+ devices fell slightly to just under 250,000 – probably due to the corona pandemic. Since 2000, however, a total of 5.07 million of these radios have now been sold. What matters for the future is that almost all new vehicles are now being equipped with a DAB+ device. OFCOM will publish new figures in the first quarter of 2021.

Specialist staff
Last modification 25.02.2021

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