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The Fureys – February Banner

Senator calls for RTÉ radio’s longwave 252 service to be retained for Irish in Britain

Sen Billy Lawless made his comments in the Seanad on Thursday. (Picture: BillyLawless.ie)
Senator Billy Lawless made his comments in the Seanad on Thursday (Picture: BillyLawless.ie)

INDEPENDENT Senator Billy Lawless has sought government assurances that the Irish in Britain will not lose access to RTÉ’s longwave 252 service.

Senator Lawless told the Seanad that the service was due to end sometime this year, which The Irish Post exclusively revealed in October.

He emphasised that older Irish people in Britain should not be forgotten or disregarded as the digital age “bypasses” their generation.

Chicago-based Mr Lawless, who last year became Ireland’s first overseas senator, added that for many Irish emigrants living in Britain, longwave 252 remains a “vital link to home”.

“There are more than 600,000 Irish-born emigrants living in the UK, with many of its older members forced out of Ireland in the 1950s with little education and no prospects of work at home,’’ Mr Lawless said.

He also mentioned figures from a survey, carried out last year by the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) at Middlesex University London, which revealed that 92 per cent of respondents tuned in to longwave every day or most days.

The Irish Post has previously reported on the survey and its findings, which also showed that 44 per cent of respondents used the longwave service in their car.

Irish groups in Britain have led a tireless campaign against RTE's plans to axe longwave 252 [Picture: Facebook/Save LW252]
Irish groups in Britain have led a tireless campaign against RTÉ’s plans to axe longwave 252 (Picture: Facebook/Save LW252)
“Unsurprisingly, it was the so-called older age groups who did not access the service on digital radio platforms, on a laptop or digital TV,’’ Mr Lawless said.

He urged Minister of State for the Diaspora Joe McHugh to “implore RTÉ management to reconsider this ageist and discriminatory cut” to its longwave 252 service.

“Nobody is trying to halt the digitalisation of our media or impede RTÉ in its process of modernisation,” added Mr Lawless.

Minister McHugh said a consultative group involving RTÉ and representatives of the Irish in Britain would meet next week in London to explore ways to maintain the link with British-based audiences, adding: “I am hopeful that a positive outcome can be achieved.”

RTÉ has long maintained that the decision to wind down its longwave 252 service in Britain is due to its running costs of around €300,000 (£258,000) per year.

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Aidan Lonergan
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Aidan Lonergan is a Digital Reporter with The Irish Post. You can follow him on Twitter @ajlonergan

4 comments on “Senator calls for RTÉ radio’s longwave 252 service to be retained for Irish in Britain”

  1. Willie Bone

    Well folks, I am two and a half years retired & regularly listen to the RTE radio services on a couple of wifi enabled digital radios, one connected to a hifi unit in the living room with another radio in the kitchen. I would prefer long wave closed down with the money saved and transferred to create more presenters on RTE Gold & an extra hour of drama per week on RTE RadioOne!
    I am a Scot living in Ayrshire (Scotland).

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    • Enda O'Kane

      Dear Willie,
      It's nice to know that your broadband allows you to enjoy programmes from Ireland. Many ether can't afford it while others suffer downloading problems. However like BBC Droitwich, LW252 can be available to all, is truly portable and very affordable on a pocket sized radio. Living in Dublin I find it very convenient to tune in while driving or if I awaken at night. LW radio has been a cultural link to all across these islands and beyond. There is no more affordable delivery system for news on the move.

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  2. Eamon Ryan

    Cut waste not want! A rollback of recent increases in political increments would more than pay for an even better longwave service. The only live contact with home that many older expatriates have is better value and more deserved than the wages of the successors of those politicians whose incompetence and lack of vision made emigration necessary in the first place.
    Cutting back on any of the meagre services to our overseas citizens would be the political equivalent of the fellow who killed both his parents and then pleaded for leniency on the grounds that he was an orphan.

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  3. Enda O'Kane

    RTE has not given a breakdown of the real costs. These costs may be book values such as capital depreciation and programme production costs etc.
    If the system is to close there will be no savings on capital depreciation.
    The energy costs due to new technology are a fraction of the old MW transmitter.
    In fact MW/LW transmitters are now around 90% efficient as compared to the older models at 40%, so the power bill has dropped dramatically.
    RTE has refused to state the energy cost claiming commercial sensitivity.
    A closure of LW252 would mean little savings on programme production either as most programmes have to be produced for FM anyway.

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