Anger as RTE to switch off medium wave band
IT'S being billed as "goodbye to an old friend". RTE is to axe Radio 1's medium-wave services, in a move which has drawn political criticism and which is set to provoke outrage among churchgoers.
Since 1926, the much-loved service has been a mainstay for people living in rural areas where FM reception is poor and a vital tool to broadcast church services.
But station executives believe that modern technology, has signed medium wave's death warrant, and it will switch off on March 24.
RTE also believes the transmission costs of supplying the service no longer justifies its existence, since the content is now available elsewhere.
Medium-wave shares almost all its content with the FM version of Radio 1, except for Sunday religious services and a mid-week soccer game.
There is to be a public information campaign ahead of the switch-off date. This will highlight the fact that the full Radio 1 MW services will remain available on long-wave radio.
The broadcaster is also talking to charities about providing subsidised radios for those who don't have sets with FM or long-wave frequencies.
The station's research shows that one in 10 radio listeners use the medium-wave version of Radio 1, with the service particularly popular with the elderly and those living in remote areas.
Fine Gael communications spokesman Simon Coveney said shutting down medium wave transmissions has implications for people in rural parts of the country and at sea.
"This is a public service broadcaster and this shouldn't be abandoned," he said.
Labour communications and marine spokesman Michael McCarthy said the decision would have the biggest implications for fishermen working 50 or 100 miles off the coast and relying on the broadcasts for weather reports and for farmers.