RTÉ’s Longwave radio service will be out for a month as works get underway to preserve it for another two years after Irish activists in the UK campaigned to save the service.
Works to maintain the longwave radio service – which allows many elderly Irish people in the UK to keep up to date with Irish news and current affairs – have begun after original plans to scrap the service were rolled back by RTÉ.
The majority of the work is scheduled to be carried out between Tuesday 10 September and Thursday 17 October, during which time listeners are being advised to use apps and digital television providers.
Since 2014, RTÉ has repeatedly tried to axe the service on cost grounds, urging listeners here to continue listening via the internet or satellite tuners.
That has been resisted as impractical, and second best, by many older and elderly Irish, especially in the north-west, for whom RTÉ radio is deemed to combat loneliness and isolation and for whom their portable radios provide companionship.
Enda O’Kane, who used to work for RTÉ and its transmission network, pointed out to the Irish World just after Christmas that RTÉ 252 LW is unlistenable in the south and south-east of England because of interference from Radio Algeria beside it on the dial.
“It would cost next to nothing to do with a little diplomacy and goodwill,” said Mr O’Kane.
“It would give RTÉ a much bigger radio audience among the Irish in Britain as well,” he added.
Earlier this year, representations were made to the Oireachtas communications committee on behalf of the Irish diaspora in Britain, and chair of that committee, Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton, confirmed works had begun to ensure the broadcast continues for at least another two years.
As remedial works are carried out on the transmission equipment, mainly the antenna/mast, the longwave service will be interrupted for a period of time over the next two months.