RTÉ to keep longwave transmitter open until January

RTÉ has deferred plans to pull the plug on a long wave service which airs its flagship radio station to emigrants.

The LW252 signal, which carries programmes to listeners across the UK, including parts of the North which cannot access an FM service, was due to stop at the end of the month.

Amid deepening criticism of a lack of viable alternatives for communities outside the Republic, RTÉ said it had postponed the closure until Monday January 19 next year.

Jim Jennings, managing director of RTÉ Radio, confirmed the deferral.

“This decision has been taken in order to ensure that listeners, particularly in the UK, have sufficient time to understand and avail themselves of alternatives to listen to,” he said.

Bosses at the public service broadcaster appeared before a Dáil committee to face questioning over the planned LW closure.

The decision was defended by RTÉ, with Mr Jennings claiming it was in line with a trend in Europe towards ending long wave signals.

It was estimated it would save €250,000.

The LW252 signal had been used by RTÉ over the last 10 years after it stopped broadcasting on a medium wave signal.

Mr Jennings also claimed that a temporary switch-off of the LW252 service earlier this year for nearly two days prompted just 37 complaints.

RTÉ also claimed 98% of its listeners used other frequencies and digital services through satellite television and online.

Meanwhile, RTÉ has announced plans to appoint a new London Correspondent.

The position was axed two years ago as the broadcaster was forced into swingeing cutbacks across its service but the decision to cut in the British capital drew widespread criticism.

The London post, based at ITN headquarters, will be created with the axing of the Europe Correspondent role in Brussels in December. The broadcaster will continue to employ Tony Connolly as its Europe Editor in the city.

Kevin Bakhurst, managing director of RTÉ News and Current Affairs, said: “This will be a smaller operation than we previously had, but with changes in training and technologies we will look to continue to provide the same high quality of coverage expected by the public of RTE News.”


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