Pirate radio stations are appearing on unlicenced DAB digital multiplexes in Dublin and Cork, and more are planned for other cities in Ireland.
The “FreeDAB” platform, now carrying around ten stations, was born out of frustration over the procedures in place to broadcast legally on DAB in Ireland.
During the recent 12-month legal DAB multiplex trial operated by ‘éirdab’ in Cork, a radio station wanting to broadcast via this method would need to pay upfront for a five-year Section 71 licence (a list price of €14,000 (plus VAT)) and wait up to five months for the application to be processed.
But waiting five months for a licence and paying five years up-front to be on a 12-month trial are just two of the issues holding back DAB in Ireland.
The technology required to broadcast a multiplex is now easier to acquire and is mostly controlled by software whilst costs to broadcast illegally via the multiplexes also appear to be very low.[…]
RTÉ RADIO will proceed with plans to axe its longwave 252 service next year, it has been confirmed.
[…]RTÉ has consistently argued that better use could be made of the money and that listeners should consider other options, such as internet and satellite receivers, to tune in to their favourite shows.
Despite undertaking a survey of almost 3,000 longwave 252 listeners in Britain last year, in conjunction with Middlesex University London and the Irish in Britain charity, the broadcaster will now go ahead with the move.
The survey had revealed that the service was a vital “lifeline” for many elderly listeners, and an important link to their homeland.
[…]The Irish in Britain organisation, which helped facilitate the RTÉ survey, today said that they would be meeting with the consultative steering group in the next few weeks to discuss the next steps for the campaign to save longwave.
Chief Executive Peter McNulty told The Irish Post: “We will be sitting down with the consultative group to review the situation and discuss the research to see how we can move forward.
“The research is very clear that there is a demand for this type of service from the Irish community here in Britain. That link with home is very important.”
RTÉ would not reveal when in 2017 they plan to close the longwave service.
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.
At an event in Trinity College Dublin (TCD) tonight (25 April), the centenary of the broadcasting of the Proclamation of an Irish Republic via shortwave radio in 1916 – considered by many to be the first pirate radio broadcast – will be marked.
While the men and women who took part in Easter 1916 were camped out in the GPO and other locations around Dublin, one group involved with the rebellion, led by Joseph Mary Plunkett, wanted to use the latest technology to spread the message of Irish revolt.
Having commandeered the Irish School of Wireless Telegraphy at the corner of O’Connell Street and Abbey Street – where the Grand Central Bar now sits – the group set up a ship’s wireless systems to broadcast a shortwave radio transmission, with the hope that a passing ship near the country would pick it up and report back to the US.
With Plunkett at the controls, the radio enthusiast issued a burst of Morse code that read: “Irish Republic declared in Dublin today. Irish troops have captured city and are in full possession. Enemy cannot move in city. The whole country rising.”
With some reports suggesting the broadcast was picked up as far away as Germany and Bulgaria, it is widely considered one of the first pirate radio broadcasts as, until then, point-to-point transmissions was the most common form of sending messages wirelessly.[…]
RTÉ Radio 1 LW will operate a full service in 2015, with reduced hours in 2016 before working towards a full shutdown in 2017.
The service was due to end early next year after RTÉ postponed a decision to close the transmitter until 19 January.
RTÉ had previously announced that it would be ceasing its Longwave 252 service from the Clarkstown longwave transmitter on 27 October and migrating its Radio One service to digital platforms.
RTÉ said that in slowing the pace of the longwave shutdown, it has considered contact from listeners and submissions from a range of groups, who highlighted that more time was needed to “understand and enable the migration to digital platforms for all listeners”.
Head of RTE Radio 1 Tom McGuire said: “We’ve listened particularly to the concerns raised by and on behalf of the elderly Irish in the UK.
“Cost-reduction remains a key priority for RTÉ and we remain convinced that, in the longer term, longwave has had its day.
“Nonetheless and despite the mid-term cost impact, RTÉ believes it is necessary to take a collaborative approach and slow this transition.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it is prepared to work with RTÉ to commission specific research to better understand the community in the UK who listen to the longwave service.
The research will be conducted next year, will be funded by the department and will include perspectives from community groups representing the Irish elderly in the UK.
Chair of the Oireachtas Transport and Communications Committee John O’Mahoney said he was delighted at the decision of the RTÉ board to retain the service.
Minister for Communications Alex White has also welcomed the announcement.
He said: “I recently met representatives of the Irish community living in Britain, who stressed the value they place on RTÉ’s longwave service.
“I welcome the decision to extend the life of the service by two years, which will give the broadcaster space to engage with its listeners about other ways of accessing RTÉ radio in the UK.”