RTÉ has brainwave to prolong longwave radio until 2017

19 Dec 2014

Technophobes who wish to listen to RTÉ radio in distant lands will be able to continue listening to longwave (LW) radio after the Irish State broadcaster decided to extend its service until 2017.

The Radio 1 Longwave 252 service, which has been operational for over 10 years now, was due to close on 19 January 2015 after the state broadcaster deemed it too expensive following a cut of €5m per year in the broadcaster’s budget and was considered unfeasible given its limited listener numbers and the availability of much better service through the internet.

However, after much lobbying from diaspora groups in the UK and other indigenous listeners, RTÉ have taken the decision to extend it to at least 2017 following its previous extension last October.

According to the release from RTÉ, this is likely to be the last time the LW service will be extended as they say that the next two years will ‘allow affected listeners longer to adapt and to give RTÉ the opportunity to learn more about their circumstances, access to and use of newer technologies.’

JP Coakley, head of operations at RTÉ Radio, said of the decision to extend its lifetime, “We’ve learned that the closure requires a greater degree of patience and nuance and we very much welcome the DFA’s offer of help in this respect. We need to transition from Longwave, but we do understand that some alternatives still feel remote, especially to elderly audiences who cannot hear Radio 1 on FM.”

In his statement he continued that the continuing pace of change in technology will mean there will be no need for the radio transmission, “The rise of smart-phone and tablet usage among older users, the growth of platforms like Freeview in the UK, our own radio-player and the imminent launch of the Irish Radio Player, all offer sustainable, practical solutions into the future.”

Vintage radio studio image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic