Belfast Telegraph

Concerns over RTE longwave future

Ireland's Diaspora minister has urged emigrants in Britain to speak out about the planned shutdown of RTE's longwave radio service.

Jimmy Deenihan said government-funded research into the use of the service, particularly by older Irish people in the UK, would help determine a decision on its future.

Last year, RTE postponed plans to axe the longwave 252 signal after an angry response from the Irish community in Britain.

It is now aiming to wind down the service before closing it altogether in May 2017.

Mr Deenihan said new research, to be completed by the end of this year, will look at emigrants' use of the signal across the Irish Sea.

"I am pleased that this research is now being rolled out and I would encourage the Irish community in the UK to engage with this process as it seeks to deliver a better picture of need, to inform a solution acceptable to all," he said.

"I am very conscious of the importance of the longwave service for the Irish community in the UK, especially the older members of this community, in maintaining their links to Ireland."

He added: "I hope that through this research a more complete picture of the current level of listenership will be available."

Irish in Britain, an umbrella group for Irish organisations in Britain, will manage the study.

It will look at the frequency of listenership, attitudes to its content and perceived benefits and weaknesses in the service.

RTE has said it wants to scrap the "outdated and costly" longwave technology, but agreed to give listeners more time to move over to digital platforms.

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