Follow the advances in RDS technology - New: Because of COVID-19 the next annual meeting of the RDS Forum will only be in 2022

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In August 2021 it was decided by the Swiss authorities to switch-off FM by the end of 2024.

The aim is to transmit radio in the future only digitally. However, listeners are interested only in the content, irrespective of whether it is broadcast as analogue or digital and still the majority of devices in use are FM receivers.

Here you can download a presentation (R21/015_6, a PDF of 2.7 MB) that gives you some background information collected for the RDS Forum. It is shown that this switch-off date should better be delayed by about 2030, because there are still millions of cars on Swiss roads that cannot yet receive DAB+. The reasons for switching-off FM are not technical ones. They are only economical and concern mainly the public broadcaster obliged to make savings.

The RDS Forum document shows that the savings expected by the public broadcaster can be compensated in the interest of the public by a small increase of the annual radio & tv reception fee. There is some hope that the Swiss authorities will re-consider the decision taken and correct it in the interest of the public.

One question of interest to the public, when FM-radio is to be switched off is the following:

What do I lose with FM and what do I win with DAB+ ?

In summary: It is you, the Swiss end-user, who will have to pay a high price for a transition that offers to most only a few advantages.

As the Swiss authorities never regulated to make DAB+ reception in new cars compulsory and now benefit from a respective EU regulation that entered only into force at the end of 2020, the envisaged FM switch-off is in our view at least 5 years too early. Why? There were in 2020 4.7 million cars registered in Switzerland. In 2021, still 2.6 million had no DAB+ receiver. Only 300 000 new cars are sold each year.

So, it will last about 9 years still, until most cars in Switzerland will have a built-in DAB+ car radio. You can download from here a presentation (R21/016_1, a PDF of 1.3 MB) that compares the FM-RDS data features with those available in DAB+. They are roughly the same. So, in this sense there is also not much to be gained for the consumer with DAB+.

Here you can download the document R21/017_2. (PDF, 1.8 MB) with the title About the Swiss cuckoo's egg "FM switch-off in favour of DAB+" which explains everything in more detail.