Last year, 42 of 44 Swiss radio broadcasters and the SRG agreed on an early and staggered shutdown of FM stations: August 2022 for the SRG and January 2023 for the private broadcasters. This is because by the end of 2021, almost three-quarters of radio usage would already have been digital, Swiss radio broadcasters announced on Thursday.
In recent weeks and months, however, the shutdown has become more and more of a political issue: As early as June, former Media Minister Doris Leuthard intervened in the discussion and advised the government to hold its horses on the issue. (Werbewoche.ch reported).
In July, media pioneer Roger Schawinski submitted a petition with over 60,000 signatures to the Swiss government against the shutdown of FM transmitters. After a meeting with Schawinski, the National Council's Commission for Transport and Telecommunications (KVF-N) then also called for an in-depth examination of the consequences of abandoning the shutdown of FM radio stations. (Werbewoche.ch reported).
Nevertheless, a large majority of broadcasters in German-speaking Switzerland and Italian-speaking Switzerland were still in favor of the planned approach, the radio stations continued. In French-speaking Switzerland, however, no majority could be found.
More time for consumers
However, since a nationwide solution is needed, the radio stations have now returned to their original plan to switch off the FM transmitters by December 31, 2024.
In addition, the latest market figures indicated that listeners needed more time for the switchover, especially drivers of older models. It is true that the DAB+ share in new cars has been almost 100 percent since 2020. But older cars still have some catching up to do.
Schawinski wants longer deadline
FM radio licenses expire at the end of 2024. From that point on, FM programs could no longer be broadcast. In a statement, Schawinski criticized the fact that the new switch-off date is based only on the "expiry of the private licenses" and "not on real radio usage.
Even after that, "more than a million Swiss cars will probably still not have DAB reception. They will all be dependent on FM for years to come "in terms of road safety".
Schawinski therefore called on politicians "not to leave the decision to the private radio broadcasters". And the SRG must also get involved in the discussion instead of "consistently hiding behind the private radio broadcasters.
For the radio broadcasters, the postponement of the switch-off to the end of 2024 would be associated with costs in the multi-digit millions, they added. In the long term, no company can afford to broadcast twice via FM and DAB+. (SDA)