Switzerland to pull plug on FM radio by 2023

Just 13% of the Swiss population still listened to radio on FM in 2020, a survey shows. © Keystone / Petra Orosz

The radio industry has reached an agreement on turning off its analogue FM transmitters, with the public broadcaster expected to make the definitive switch to digital in mid-2022. Private radio stations will follow suit by January 2023.

This content was published on January 4, 2021

The end of very high frequency radio waves (VHF-FM) will occur earlier than planned, the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) has said. Initially the authorities had announced the switch to digital audio broadcasting, or DAB, for the end of 2024.

A survey conducted in 2020 showed that just 13% of the Swiss population still listened to FM radio, OFCOM said. Digital radio use, on the other hand, increased by 22 percentage points between 2015 and 2020. DAB+ offers better sound quality and broader coverage areas and is already the most widely used transmission channel for radio services in the country, according to the communications authority.

Last year OFCOM launched a CHF5 million ($5.67 million) multi-year public information campaign to prepare listeners for the switch to digital radio. The government created the legal framework for the end of FM radio back in 2017 – the same year Norway became the first country in the world to end national broadcasts on FM – and has provided financial support to radio broadcasters for making the transition to digital.

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