RTÉ Radio 1 to stop broadcasting on long wave over ‘climate and cost’ factors

Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1. Photo: Andres Poveda

Niamh McGovern

RTÉ Radio 1 will cease broadcasting on long wave 252 in two weeks, the national broadcaster has announced.

Station bosses made the decision last year but, resulting outcry forged RTÉ to put off closing down the long wave service until the New Year.

The decision to delay the move was taken to try to ensure listeners in areas with poor FM reception and those living abroad, particularly in Britain, had enough time to learn about alternative ways to keep listening to the flagship station.#

Long wave broadcasts will now cease from April 14.

The phasing out and closure of the long wave service comes on foot of a recommendation from the Future of Media Commission Report which was published by the Government in July 2022. This was part of a wider recommendation aimed at ensuring RTÉ could invest in available resources in innovation and digital services, RTÉ said.

The report states that further investment in the mast and transmitter, which is no longer fit for purpose, and has a significant carbon footprint, would significantly impair RTÉ’s ability to meet the emissions reductions target required to contribute to the National Climate Action Plan.

RTÉ said this, coupled with the greatly reduced number of listeners tuning in on long wave on newer devices, along with increased accessibilty of of RTÉ services and content internationally, was behind the decision.

“Like all businesses RTÉ is seeking to reduce its energy usage in response to the climate crisis, public expenditure efficiency, and to reduce the burden on the national grid – and LW consumes significant energy,” RTÉ said.

"The required investment to maintain the mast is very significant and given the greatly reduced number of listeners and the inaccessibility of longwave radio on newer devices means that this is a cost which is unfortunately no longer sustainable."

It also cited: “The increased accessibility of RTÉ services and content internationally in a range of other formats, which are reaching a wide audience.”

RTÉ Director General, Dee Forbes said: "While RTÉ has invested considerably in prolonging the life of the transmitter to broadcast RTÉ Radio 1 on Long Wave 252, we can no longer justify this investment. Not only is RTÉ Radio 1 widely available in the UK across television and online services, including apps and smart speakers, the energy costs involved along with the cost of replacing the transmitter mean that, in line with the recommendation of the Future of Media Commission Report, the time has come to bring the Long Wave service to a close.

"While this may be disappointing to some listeners, RTÉ must continue to invest in critical projects underpinning our production, distribution and business activities, as well as digital projects which are essential to ensure we continue to deliver value to our audiences."

RTÉ said Irish listeners can continue to enjoy RTÉ Radio 1 on FM, Saorview and Saorsat and on their preferred audio streaming service, including the RTÉ Radio Player and Irish Radioplayer apps.

Those listening from the UK can avail of the channel on Freesat (channel 750), Sky (channel 0 160) and Virgin Media (channel 917), and on audio streaming services, including the RTÉ Radio Player and radio player apps.