IRELAND’S Heritage Minister has lent her support to the on-going RTÉ radio longwave controversy, by backing a review of the proposed cancellation of the service.
Heather Humphreys emphasised the importance of engaging with the Irish community abroad and acknowledged the significance of the radio service.
“Of course it’s important for them to connect and know what’s going on,” she said. “I certainly support that review and we’ll see what we can do to connect with people.”
The proposed closure of RTÉ’s longwave 252 service was met with fierce backlash in Britain, where many members of the Irish community are daily listeners to RTÉ Radio One.
An initial date for the closure of the service was expected in January, but thanks to a campaign led by The Irish Post the national broadcaster revised its plans with a new shutdown date of 2017 planned.
The service has been important for maintaining links with Ireland for those who have spent the majority of their lives in Britain, and may not have access to the internet to listen in online.
But the Minister also said that more credit should be given to the Diaspora – many of whom she believes will listen online.
“You can listen to a lot of radio on your iPhone but of course they want to have it on the radio,” she said. “Although having said that, my own mother can manage to use these iPhones so maybe we’re underestimating them in many respects.”
Irish radio and television has been lauded as a major connection for the Irish community, reaffirmed by RTÉ recently launching its international player, meaning television programmes can be watched from anywhere in the world for the first time.
The longwave issue is being re-examined by the Department of Foreign Affairs and RTÉ, who will conduct a survey this year of the Irish community in Britain before making any further decisions on the closure of the service.