Plans to extend RTÉ services to the Irish Diaspora in Britain have been warmly welcomed.

A Consultative Group comprised of RTÉ, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the umbrella organisation 'Irish in Britain' and representatives of the Irish community in Britain has today issued a statement of agreed recommendations in respect of RTÉ’s Longwave radio service.

The service will now continue until its closure by June 2019 and in preparation, RTÉ plan to launch a replacement service on DAB+ digital radio.

Donegal TD and Minister of State for the Diaspora, Joe McHugh TD has welcomed the recommendations.

“I am delighted that there is now a way forward that takes into account as much as possible the views of older members of the Irish community in Britain," he said.

"I have committed to making a contribution to this via the Government of Ireland Emigrant Support Programme. The research we funded on this issue has made clear that RTÉ Radio is a fantastic resource for Irish people in Britain.

"I’d like also to acknowledge the leadership the Irish community in Britain has shown on this,” Minister McHugh added.

Since 2004 Ireland’s national public service media RTÉ has transmitted its most popular radio station RTÉ Radio 1 on Longwave 252kHz. This service has significant overspill into the island of Britain. In September 2014, RTÉ announced the closure of the service which was subsequently deferred to 2017.

Recommendations

• RTÉ plan to launch a service on DAB+ digital radio modelled from RTÉ Radio 1 and to work with stakeholders to maintain contact with the Irish community in Britain. Details of this service are still being worked out but it is likely to include a limited amount of new targeted programming commissioned for audiences in Britain. As a terrestrial radio service this is subject to regulatory approval in the U.K.

• The broadcast will be transmitted via a chain of small broadcast networks which cover main urban centres. This is where the majority of RTÉ Longwave listeners live. In line with research findings as to preferred medium, this network will provide a conventional radio experience with sets from as little as £30. The transmission cost will be considerably less (approx one fifth) than the present quarter of a million per annum that RTÉ expends in running costs for Long Wave 252.

• As the new service is being established, RTÉ Longwave will continue to be broadcast. It will close by the end of June 2019. The Consultative Group notes that longwave radio does not have a long-term future but welcomes the extension of the RTE Longwave service for a total of four and a half years beyond its original planned closure.

• RTÉ, Irish in Britain and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (via the Emigrant Support Programme) have undertaken to co-operate on communications and digital awareness measures and on outreach to older members of the Irish community in Britain to ensure they can continue to access the much valued RTÉ Radio services and other relevant digital services.

• RTÉ Radio 1 will remain available in the UK on the RTÉ Radio player, the Irish Radioplayer and Sky, FreeSat and Virgin TV services.

• The Consultative Group thanks all of its members and the organisations they represent for their constructive involvement and good faith.

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