Anger as RTÉ digital kills the analogue star

Published Categorized as radio

Trackback [20.03.2008 first posted on silicon republic]
A huge portion of Ireland’s emigrant population  not to mention 600,000 listeners in the greater Belfast area  will be disenfranchised when RTÉ switches off its analogue medium-wave services without making a clear, determined switch to digital.

Despite last year’s broadcasting legislation allowing for licence money to be spent on radio broadcasting for the Irish abroad, RTÉ is moving ahead with plans to switch off its medium wave but keep its long-wave signal open until it introduces digital.
However, prominent podcaster Brian Greene and the Emigrants Advice Network (EAN) have held meetings with the Department of Communications arguing the folly of shutting down the medium-wave service.
“The shutdown is a reversal of recent trends in which Ireland has acknowledged its debt to the Irish abroad, and the need for maintaining strong links. Medium wave and long wave are complementary solutions for the Irish abroad  long wave on its own is inadequate and presents problems for the future. The move is premature it will make the transition to digital more difficult,? EAN said in a letter to the Irish Emigrant newspaper.
It argues that RTE should be working to improve access to its services for the Irish abroad, particularly the most vulnerable who will experience the most difficulty in making the transition from medium wave to any other format.
It says that while most people in London cannot get medium wave, there are large parts of big cities like Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester that can and they should be allowed to listen to a service that has existed for decades.
“On 24 March, after 80 years of service and with just five weeks’ notice, RTÉ will shut down its medium-wave service,? said Greene. “They will be turning off an important service to the Irish abroad, as well as an analogue signal that will act as an important stepping stone to digital.?
Greene described RTÉ’s decision as “illogical? and said a staged report is required. “Their approach is flawed from the start. There are stages at which they should approach a digital switch-off and they should do both the analogue shutdown and digital switch-on in parallel. This would encourage people to listen to digital and then turn off analogue.?
According to Greene, RTÉ says that less than 10pc of its listeners listen through medium wave. But the national broadcaster is not taking into account the emigrant listenership.
He says that while RTÉ is planning to move to DAB (digital audio broadcasting), this is now an old standard and the national broadcaster should be focusing on world digital radio standards like Digital Radio Mondiale or DAB-plus.
“The French have withdrawn funding for DAB. RTÉ need to be moving to DAB-plus rather than an old standard like DAB,? Greene argued.

To listen to a Brian Greene podcast about the looming shutdown of the 567Khz medium wave service go to: http://www.briangreene.com/wxtc31.mp3
By John Kennedy

Published
Categorized as radio