Radio association calls for scheduled FM switch-off at the end of 2024

The union of non-profit local radio stations Unikom has called for the planned shutdown of the ultra-shortwave frequency FM in Switzerland by the end of 2024. As long as FM is in operation, classic radio advertising will go predominantly to FM radio broadcasters despite digitalization, Unikom announced on Tuesday.

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The FM switch-off or the expiry of the FM radio licenses is therefore existential for the numerous digital audio broadcasting radios (DAB+) united in Unikom.

77 percent of radio listening in Switzerland in 2022 was digital, via DAB+ and the Internet, as Bakom recently announced. By contrast, the use of FM declined steadily. By the fall of 2022, the FM share had fallen to 23 percent.

In 2014, the Swiss Radio and Television Company SRG and the Swiss radio associations VSP, RRR and Unikom agreed to switch off FM by 2024 at the latest. Originally, the switch-off had been planned earlier.

Unikom calls for tender

Should Bakom, as the regulatory authority, fail to completely switch off FM by the end of 2024, the FM frequencies would have to be put out to public tender again in accordance with the Telecommunications Act, Unikom's statement continued. A VHF radio license offers a clear market advantage, which should not simply be held back for the current VHF radio broadcasters.

Jürg Bachmann, president of the Association of Swiss Private Radio Stations (VSP), sees things differently, as he told Keystone-SDA: "In the past ten years, the federal government and the radio industry have invested a lot to promote the digital use of radio and to reduce the analog use. Today, radio is listened to digitally by a large majority."

Against this backdrop, it would be counterproductive for the federal government and the entire radio industry to put the FM radio licenses out to tender now. "In particular, it would undo all the efforts from which Unikom radios have also benefited to a great extent," says Bachmann. For this reason, the VSP is against the tendering of the FM frequencies. Instead, the VSP supports the federal government's strategy of no longer granting licenses for FM frequencies that are no longer in operation. (SDA)

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