FM extension in Switzerland.
Albert Rösti proposes extending the FM airwaves until the end of 2026.
Federal Councillor Albert Rösti will propose to the full Federal Council a "final" extension of the current FM broadcasting concessions until the end of 2026. The decision will be taken by the full Federal Council.
A spokesman for the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) confirmed Albert Rösti's decision on Saturday, as announced by the Tamedia Group newspapers.
The Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) informed radio associations of this on Thursday, pointing out that some broadcasters had experienced local and regional problems in recent months, requiring individual solutions. For this reason, discussions within the industry on the temporary continuation of FM operation after 2024 have been underway for some time, the spokesman added.
Decision at the end of the year
"OFCOM is currently examining the possibility of extending VHF radio licences until 2026, and will prepare an amendment to the corresponding ordinance," explained OFCOM spokesman Francis Meier. The Federal Council will probably decide by the end of 2023 whether to approve this extension, he added.
"VHF broadcasting remains possible on a voluntary basis", added Francis Meier, pointing out that radio stations can surrender their FM concessions at any time in favor of a digital broadcasting concession.
Support from the majority of broadcasters
For more than ten years, the radio industry and OFCOM have been preparing for the definitive switch-off of FM in Switzerland in favor of a transition to digital broadcasting via DAB+ for all radio channels. In 2014, the Swiss radio associations agreed to phase out FM broadcasting by December 31, 2024 at the latest.
In April, the Union des radios locales à but non lucratif (Unikom) reiterated its call for FM to be phased out by the end of 2024. As long as FM waves are in use, traditional radio advertising goes mainly to FM radio broadcasters, and very little to digital radio broadcasters (DAB+), it points out.
The majority of broadcasters are in favor of shutting down the FM airwaves, but a small minority are opposed.