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    Irish Times: ‘growing unease’ over RTE move

    Monday, February 18th, 2008

    The Irish Times is reporting that ‘growing unease’ among TDs and Senators over RTE’s decision to shut down its medium wave service on March 24. It says there will be a meeting between the Oireachtas Committee on Communications and RTE in the next few weeks over the issue.

    The report quotes several politicians citing their concerns, including Senator Denis O’Donovan, a former TD for Cork South West. The report says:

    “As somebody who lived abroad in the 1970s in London, working my way through college, I remember the importance of the service for emigrants,” he said.

    “To listen to the broadcast of a GAA match was hugely important for emigrants.”

    He said many of those who would be most affected were now silent because they were unaware it was going to happen.

    Mr O’Donovan said while a young generation might be adept with modern technology, there was still a significant number of people who relied on the medium wave service. “These are people of modest means who who might also be living in remote areas. They have been using this service for years and years,” he said.

    “I would call on RTÉ to reverse this decision. The closure of this service will not save a great deal of money, and if it can make people’s lives happier at home and abroad, why not continue with it?”

    Read the entire article (subscription required).

    Belfast Telegraph says RTE should listen to North

    Monday, February 18th, 2008

    The Belfast Telegraph has weighed in on the continuing controversy over RTE’s move to shut down its medium wave service – a move that will affect those in the North as well as emigrants in Britain and beyond.

    In its editorial, titled “RTE should listen to this signal”, the newspaper says that the RTE should be expanding its offerings to the North, not cutting them. It adds:

    Although RTE is discomfited by the negative publicity over the ending of medium wave radio transmissions, the company must be privately pleased that so many of its listeners are concerned.

    See the entire article.

    Irish News highlights medium-wave shutdown in North

    Monday, February 18th, 2008

    The Irish News, a newspaper based in the North, has been running substantial coverage of the recent announcement by RTE that it will be shutting down its medium wave service.

    On its first day of coverage run nearly six pages of articles on the RTE shutdown of medium wave. The coverage includes a front-page article, an editorial, and four pages of articles on inside pages.

    Thanks to the Irish News for allowing us to link to the PDF versions of the following articles:

    Update: February 13

    Reader comments: Move sparks waves of controversy.
    Give us the power to rule on broadcasting, say MLAs.

    Update: February 15

    RTE committed to entire island

    Update: February 16

    Alliance concern at RTE move

    Update:  March 3

    RTE radio to move frequency in battle for listeners

    Visit the Irish News at

    Dail and Stormont committees to examine RTE move

    Thursday, February 14th, 2008

    In a front page story, the Irish News reports today that the issue of RTE’s medium-wave shutdown will be examined at Dail and Stormont committees. The paper notes that Sinn Fein, the SDLP, Fine Gael and Labour have all their concerns over the shutdown, which is scheduled for March 24.

    RTE has pledged to find a way to extend its FM coverage throughout the North before the end of its MW transmission.

    There have been no reports on any plans to address the loss faced by emigrant communities.

    Read the entire article on the Irish News (subscription required).
    See Spirit in the sky on medium wave.
    See also Labour joins opposition to RTE plan.
    Watch the video: RTE FM Switchoff

    Labour Party questions RTE medium-wave shutdown

    Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

    The Labour Party is calling on the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications to ask RTE to explain its decision to eliminate its medium wave broadcast.

    The party’s communication spokesperson Liz McManus said that the shutdown was in violation of the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement, because it will cut off one of the traditional cross-border links.

    Ms McManus also highlights the situation of the Irish abroad:

    This decision also affects Irish emigrants, particularly those who were forced to leave during harder times, and they must be given assistance to manage this change and keep their radios tuned in to our national broadcaster. They must not be left behind during this modernisation programme by RTE.

    Ms McManus proposes a possible solution: Postpone the switchoff until there is a digital alternative.

    There are many who would have preferred RTE to have postponed the switch off until it begins broadcasting in digital. Medium wave should be recognized as an integral tool in the strategy toward digital radio.

    She concludes:

    I will be asking the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications to invite RTE to come in to discuss this matter in full. I will also be writing to the Minister for Foreign Affairs on this matter.

    This matter should also be debated by the Committee established by the Oireachtas to oversee progress on the Good Friday Agreement. Denying people in Northern Ireland access to our national broadcaster service is a step backwards. Denying emigrants in Britain the same access compounds an injustice to many of them who were forced to leave out of economic necessity

    Read the entire press release from Liz McManus.

    Edit: Liz  McManus also brought up the issue in the Dail during the Order of Business on the 12th. From the transcript:

    Deputy Liz McManus: I am not sure whether the Taoiseach is aware that in Northern Ireland there is considerable concern at the fact that next month RTE intends to close down the medium wave radio service. This seems to fly in the face of the Good Friday Agreement, that people who have been able to access RTE radio all their lives will no longer be able to do so.
    Will the Taoiseach ensure that the Broadcasting Bill is brought forward? In the meantime, because this affects people in Northern Ireland and our emigrants in Britain, who in many cases will also lose a service, will he ensure that RTE does not close down this service until the Broadcasting Bill is debated and that we can ensure there is consistency? For example, the FM signal is so weak on parts of the Falls Road that people simply will not be able to get RTE radio. This is a matter for debate in this House and for the committee on the progress of the Good Friday Agreement, as well as the Joint Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

    An Ceann Comhairle: It is a matter for the House but not on the Order of Business. The Taoiseach to reply on the Broadcasting Bill.

    The Taoiseach: The Broadcasting Bill will be before the House shortly.

    Blog roundup: RTE medium wave move

    Monday, February 11th, 2008

    The controversy over RTE’s decision to shut down medium wave – a move that will affect Irish emigrants in Britain and beyond, as well as people in the North – has been reflected in a variety of blog postings around the Internet. Here are some of them, from a variety of sources, including political parties, media commentators and others.

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