RTE introduces new service for UK listeners to offset closure of Longwave 252

Presenter Ryan Tubridy Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Independent.ie Newsdesk

RTE is to introduce a new digital service which will include programming aimed at Irish in the UK.

The service is designed to offset the loss of the station's longwave service which is due to shut down in June 2019.

The state broadcaster will launch the service on DAB+ digital radio and will be modelled on RTÉ Radio 1. In a statement the broadcaster said they work with stakeholders to maintain contact with the Irish community in Britain.

Full details of the service have not been clarified.

The station had originally planned to close the service in May 2017.

But the plan caused widespread anger, particularly among the Irish community in Britain, where the service is seen as a crucial lifeline for thousands of older emigrants who cannot access digital broadcasts.

The decision follows a consultative group which comprised of RTÉ, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the umbrella organisation Irish in Britain and representatives of Irish community in Britain

Minister of State for the Diaspora, Joe McHugh TD, welcomed the recommendations: “I am delighted that there is now a way forward that takes into account as much as possible the views of older members of the Irish community in Britain. I have committed to making a contribution to this via the Government of Ireland Emigrant Support Programme. The research we funded on this issue has made clear that RTÉ Radio is a fantastic resource for Irish people in Britain. I’d like also to acknowledge the leadership the Irish community in Britain has shown on this.”

Dee Forbes, Director-General, RTÉ, added: “This is about listening, compromising and forging a way forward in partnership. Longwave as a technology is no longer viable in the long-term. It is crucial that we work with all partner bodies to evolve a replacement service and that RTÉ plays its part in supporting evolving technologies. I’m confident we have a meaningful solution and the goodwill to make a success of it for audiences in the UK.”

Since 2004 Ireland’s national public service media RTÉ has transmitted its most popular radio station RTÉ Radio 1 on Longwave 252kHz. This service has significant overspill into the island of Britain. In September 2014, RTÉ announced the closure of the service which was subsequently deferred to 2017.