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    Ean press release on RTE medium wave shutdown

    By Noreen Bowden | February 11, 2008

    Ean has issued a press release on the shutdown of RTE medium wave services, which will affect those who listen to Radio 1 on MW radio. The move will hit listeners in Britain, Northern France and the Benelux countries.

    Here is the text of the release:

    On March 24, RTE will cease broadcasting on medium wave, cutting off Radio One to those who listen to it on MW radio. This is a move that will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable among the listening audience.

    While RTE points to the fact that there are numerous other options for listeners available, including FM, longwave and non-radio technologies such as the internet, there are wider implications that will affect many sectors:

    · Senior citizens – who value medium wave’s reliability and ease of use over FM’s sound quality. It is easier to tune in – the FM dial is cluttered with stations, and tuning in can be a distraction. Medium wave reception is stable and predictable. Those who need to purchase long-wave receivers will incur an additional cost.

    · Emigrants – Medium wave reaches Britain, Northern France and the Benelux countries. Those listening to Radio One on MW radio will have to buy new long-wave receivers, which will be a burden on the vulnerable elderly among the emigrants. Additionally, there are some areas where medium wave is a stronger signal than the longwave station, due to interference with the long wave signal.

    · Northern Ireland – parts of Northern Ireland rely on medium wave because the FM signal is too weak to reach them. Cutting service contradicts the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement.

    · People with limited vision – the FM dial is cluttered with stations. Tuning RTE in on MW is simple.

    · People on the move – medium wave stays on the same spot on the dial. FM requires retuning as one travels through the country, which is the type of distraction that has been a proven factor in car accidents.

    · RTE has been producing separate programming for medium wave, such as sports programmes and events and the Sunday Mass. Religious services will move to longwave, requiring the purchase of an additional receiver for those who do not have them. This will be a further restriction for those on the move, as pocket-sized long-wave sets are rare on the market.

    FM, medium wave, and longwave are complementary services: some people choose medium wave over FM because they live in areas where they do not get good FM reception. Additionally, some programming is not carried on FM, so people will be required to switchover to longwave. For many, a switchover to longwave will require the purchase of a new radio – a burden that will fall disproportionately on the elderly and most vulnerable, who are the most likely to rely on medium wave to begin with. Additionally, those listeners who want to convert their car radios to longwave will have to incur the installation costs.

    In addition, new digital technology will soon render our existing longwave receivers obsolete. RTE has installed a longwave DRM transmitter and tested it in August, transmitting digital longwave across the UK and Europe. This is a welcome move, but the switchover to digital radio on longwave will render current longwave radios obsolete. Those who purchase longwave sets now will have to buy another radio when RTE cuts the existing longwave signal and sends out a digital signal in its place.

    Ean Director Noreen Bowden says, “This issue is particularly important for our older emigrants, who value RTE’s services as a powerful link with home. At the very least, they should be given assistance with the switchover before services are cut off – although we would like to see the move postponed until RTE begins broadcasting in digital, which will give near-FM quality across all of Ireland, across most of Britain, and into near Europe, using much less power. This will be a boon not just to older emigrants, but to anyone travelling abroad – business people and holiday-makers as well as long-term residents.?

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