Old TVs get the digit: Analogue transmissions end in Svalbard, but those cut off still have to pay fees


There’s almost certainly plenty of people who would pay to not watch reindeer migrating for seven straight days on TV, but some local residents are grumbling about having the decision forced on them.

The transmission of analogue cable TV signals to Svalbard ended earlier this month, angering residents with older televisions now showing nothing but static.

Furthermore, as the owners of those obsolete sets they’re still subject to Norway’s broadcasting license fee, which in 2014 was  2,729 kroner, including an eight percent value-added tax.

“The artists’ bedsits at Galleri Svalbard has no cable television since Longyearbyen cable television stopped,” wrote Nora Grøndal in a post on a community Facebook page where dozens of residents were seeking answers to the unexpected cutoff. “There is no fiber-optic cable either and those renting are told not to watch television on the wireless network.”

Some locals noted the cutoff may affect relatively few people in town, but it could be more significant for people in cabins where digital cable hookups are not available.

Telenor announced last Oct. 31 it intended to cease all analogue cable service this year, affecting a projected 100,000 customers. A statement by the company declared “We need to ensure that these customers – and not all of them are happy about this – are getting a good offer to choose the digital solution going forward.”

For some local residents, that translates into a ploy to force them to buy more expensive televisions and cable packages.

Some participating in the Facebook discussion stated they are refusing to pay the licensing fee, especially since Telenor and other broadcast entities are failing to respond to inquires.

Inquires by Icepeople to Telenor have not yet been answered.

Norway is also scheduled to be the first country to cease nationwide FM radio transmissions in 2017 or 2019, depending on the penetration of digital radio use this year.