Radio in general in Denmark

On the Danish radio market we can distinguish between foreign and domestic radio companies.

There are a range of foreign radio channels available in Denmark.

These channels are not under the jurisdiction of the Danish authorities and none of these have any public service-obligations whatsoever.

Only the radio channels originating from Denmark are under Danish jurisdiction and some of these do have public service-obligations.

Radio can either be transmitted by cable, satellite or short wave or broadcast as terrestrial radio.  

Transmitting radio by cable, satellite or short wave

Stations that only transmit on cable or satellite, are not required to have a permit, but must register with the Radio and Television Board if they want to transmit in Denmark. A requirement for this registration is in general, however, that editorial decisions be made in Denmark.

The currently registered radio stations can be seen here.

Broadcasting terrestrial radio in Denmark

To broadcast terrestrial radio in Denmark you are required to have permission from the Radio and Television Board, as there is a limited amount of available frequencies.

The requirement applies to both nationwide and local stations, and whether the station will transmit on FM frequencies or DAB. The only exception to this is the public service broadcaster DR, which has this license right after the Radio and Television Act.

Denmark has a large number of local radio stations, all with program permissions from the Radio and Television Board. The Board supervises their compliance with the terms of the permits.

The local FM radio stations that do not broadcast advertisements can get grants from the Radio and Television Board.

The Danish radio market

The Danish radio market consists of four primary actors. The main radio provider is DR (non-commercial public service-station) which runs 3 national FM channels (P1, P3 and P4) as well as several DAB and NET channels. DR is the market leader and has managed to increase its market share in the last few years to a level of almost 80 %.

The main commercial player is SBS radio which runs the national FM5 Nova FM as well as The Voice. In association with SBS, Berlingske Media runs FM6, POP FM and lastly there is the New Radio Aps with Radio 100FM and Radio Soft.

Besides these players there are around 300 local radio stations, incl. community radio.

The market is mainly funded through license fees (for non-commercial radio) and advertising revenue (commercial radio). We do not have the exact figures for 2010, but in 2007 DR used 1.234 million Danish Kroner on radio services, while the advertising revenue for the commercial radio stations in the same year was 285 million Danish Kroner. This declined to 232 million Danish Kroner in 2010.

The market for radio advertising is around the 2 % level of the total Danish advertising market in contrast to the average of around 6 % in a European context.

Currently, there are no real subscription revenue streams available for radio, and as the market for radio advertising has been reduced, the competition between the commercial operators for advertising revenue is significant.

The funding for DR has not been influenced in a similar way as the continuity is secured through the license fee. DR did however; lose FM4, the former P2 as well as the operating costs for the channel. FM4 was awarded to Radio24Syv.

Setbacks of the commercial market

The Danish market was a monopoly until 1983, when local radio was introduced. The monopoly continued at the national level till 2003, where the first national private commercial channels began broadcasting. The commercial market has suffered several setbacks as will be indicated below.

The two national licences were auctioned off for the first time in 2003 – for an eight year period. Sky Radio won the first auction of FM5 for 54 million Danish Kroner annually, and Talpa won FM6 for 22.5 million Danish Kroner annually.

Sky Radio launched their operation 15 November 2003 and ended their operation 14 November 2005 with a deficit.  FM5 was auctioned off again in 2006 and was won by TV 2/Denmark for 23 million Danish Kroner annually.

TV 2 Radio was launched in 2007, but the channel did not reach a sufficient audience to be profitable, and ended with a deficit.

The radio channel was sold to SBS Broadcasting, but TV 2 kept a 20% share and were obligated to pay the annual fee of 23 million Danish Kroner, while SBS took over general operations. SBS began operation of Nova FM on FM5 in November 2009.

SBS Radio currently faces financial challenges with deficits and has received additional capital from their mother company.

Talpa filed for bankruptcy in October 2009 after losing 300 million Danish Kroner since they began operating in 2003. A part of the company was saved and continued operation of the channels under new owners. They lost the national license and access to DAB, but continued by using local licenses.

FM6 was auctioned off by beauty contest in 2010, and was won by a consortium consisting of Berlingske Media (60%) and SBS Radio (40%). The new channel POP FM had startup in October 2010.

The current field of commercial players is SBS and New Radio Aps as well as the Berlingske Media in cooperation with SBS. Additionally there are also regional and local commercial players.

Last updated: 20.09.2012


Lykke Nordblom
33 73 33 47
  • Agency for Culture and Palaces
  • H.C. Andersens Boulevard 2
  • DK-1553 Copenhagen V
  • Telephone: +45 33 95 42 00

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