RTE is set to scrap controversial plans to axe its longwave radio service, aimed at saving the cash-strapped broadcaster €250,000 a year, the Sunday Independent has learned.
As the station grapples with an unprecedented financial crisis, it was announced two years ago that it planned to wind down longwave 252 broadcasts before full shutdown in May 2017.
But the plan caused widespread anger, particularly among the Irish community in Britain, where the service is seen as a crucial lifeline for thousands of older emigrants who cannot access digital broadcasts.
RTE sources say the service was targeted for shutdown because it is considered outdated, and is an ongoing and unnecessary cost, during a time of increasing financial pressures.
However, as a result of a public backlash, the broadcaster was forced to temporarily postpone the closure until 2017, giving listeners more time to move over to digital platforms.
But the station has confirmed it is now carrying out a “review” of its previous announcement.
A spokesperson added that there is now no specific date for the termination of the service. However, it is understood there remains an ongoing risk as regards its long-term viability.
[…]Many of the older emigrants left Ireland in the 1950s – with only basic education – as Ireland grappled with widespread unemployment.
They are now elderly and a significant number are in difficult financial circumstances, according to social services.
This radio service is still a crucial ‘link with home’ for many thousands of older Irish in Britain, according to various immigrant groups working with social services.