THE regular breaks in RTÉ’s longwave 252 service are becoming too frequent - according to a former RTÉ engineer.
The service has been down since Monday but is expected be back in operation from 5.30pm this evening - after three days out of service.
Enda O’Kane, who was involved in setting up the longwave service in Britain in the 1980s, spoke to The Irish Post about the most recent break in service.
“They say it’s maintenance but this has become an all too frequent thing in recent years,” said Mr O’Kane. “This would have been unheard of when it was in its prime – three days with no service.”
Maintenance on the service, Mr O’Kane believes, also sends mixed signals to the Irish in Britain, who have been campaigning to save the radio service after it came under threat of closure earlier this year.
“There have been long outages previously that have been of significance in some people’s minds,” he said. “They were installing hardware on the mast that created ideas in people’s minds thinking ‘are they going to use this for mobile phones?’”
RTÉ had been set to close its longwave service in Britain for good in January as part of a digital strategy, which caused massive backlash from the Irish community in Britain.
But thanks to a campaign by The Irish Post, RTÉ committed to extending the service until at least 2017, with a review ongoing for the future of the radio station in Britain beyond the revised date.
One frustrated Irish Post reader who got in touch this week was Anne Boyle, who said: "As from today my 93-year-old mum cannot get the station and she is so disappointed. Has it gone off LW252? There seems to be conflicting dates given."
She added: "It's her lifeline to Ireland and she is so happy to be able to have that contact."
An RTÉ spokesperson was unavailable to comment on the most recent break in service.