RTÉ has announced it will postpone the closure of its longwave radio service until the New Year after complaints from listeners forced the broadcaster to admit it hadn’t “engaged with groups” effectively.
The digital switchover is now due to take place on January 19, 2015, to allow the broadcaster time to better connect with listeners affected by the closure, RTÉ told a Joint Committee on Transport and Communications today.
Jim Jennings, Managing Director of RTÉ Radio, has also confirmed that they will send a delegation to Britain next week to meet organisations and “see if there is a better solution to the longwave issue”.
They will do “all they can” to engage with community groups here, he added, after accepting that the window given for the longwave closure was “too short”.
RTÉ had planned to switch off the longwave service on October 27 and migrate their Radio One service to digital platforms - but only gave their listeners a month’s notice of their plans.
Today’s postponement follows a backlash from Radio One listeners worldwide, who claimed the digital switchover would ‘cut them off’ from the service for good.
Over the past weeks The Irish Post has highlighted the negative impact the closure would have on the many British-based listeners who rely on the daily service for their favoured news, mass and entertainment programmes from home.
Those listeners have now received a 14 week reprieve, in which it will be hoped an alternative solution to RTÉ’s long wave plans can be found.
However at today’s meeting Mr Jennings again reinforced the broadcaster’s commitment to the longwave closure.
“We know that such decisions affect audiences who enjoy and rely on RTÉ's services,” he said.
"However, we also know that the public expect us to manage our operations and services efficiently and evolve our services as technology changes and audiences adapt.”
He added: "In balancing these broad considerations we have come to the decision that now is the right time to cease our longwave Radio One service after ten years on air."