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    Irish Times reports on call for postponement of RTE shutdown

    By Noreen Bowden | March 18, 2008

    The Irish Times has reported on Ean’s call for the shutdown of RTE’s medium wave service to be postponed.

    Ean has been joined in the campaign by Age Action, who say that “older people are not properly prepared for the closing down of the medium wave band”.

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    RTÉ urged not to abandon medium wave


    THERE HAS been strong opposition to a decision by RTÉ to drop its medium wave radio service by groups representing the elderly and Irish emigrants in Britain.

    Next Monday RTÉ will shut down its medium wave broadcasts of Radio 1. Users will then have to switch to FM, long wave, satellite or the internet.

    The Emigrant Advice Network (EAN), which works on behalf of Irish emigrants, said in a statement that radio was “crucial for communications with the Irish abroad, and provision for radio broadcasting to Irish communities outside the island of Ireland was included in last year’s Broadcasting Bill”.

    Calling on RTÉ to postpone its decision until a long-term solution was found, it said the proposed shutdown was “a reversal of recent trends in which Ireland has acknowledged its debt to the Irish abroad, and the need for maintaining strong links.” It said medium wave and long wave were complementary solutions for the Irish abroad as “long wave on its own is inadequate and presents problems for the future”.

    Dropping medium wave was “a step backward in our relationship with the Irish abroad”.

    It pointed out that last year’s broadcasting legislation allowed for licence money to be spent on radio broadcasting for the Irish abroad.

    “The shutdown of a service valued by the Irish abroad, and RTÉ’s refusal to help older Irish emigrants with a voucher scheme similar to the one it says it will adopt for older people here, seems contradictory to the spirit of last year’s legislation,” it said.

    RTÉ maintains that just 10 per cent of listeners use the medium wave service.

    It also says that it will save more than €1 million by switching it off.

    However, Enda O’Kane, a former RTÉ employee who has been campaigning on the issue for several months, said the costs quoted by the national broadcaster are based on old energy inefficient technology.

    He said a replacement transmitter would slash broadcasting costs and would also be capable of broadcasting a new form of digital transmission known as DRM.

    This is being tipped by many experts as the future of digital broadcasting. “For a mere €4 million, the former Athlone medium wave site could be adapted to digital short wave and so provide a service to our citizens across the EU,” Mr O’Kane said.

    “Satellite services that are currently in use by RTÉ are vulnerable to external influences and now require payment of a fee.”

    Meanwhile, Age Action has said it was “concerned that many older people are not properly prepared for the closing down of the medium wave band.

    The migration of programmes from the medium wave to long wave may well mean that many older listeners will no longer be able to enjoy their programmes.”

    In a statement it continued, “we know, for example, that many older people like to listen to Mass and religious services on medium wave, and this will be a particular loss to them if they do not have long wave or cannot tune their radios to it.”

    © 2008 The Irish Times

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