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    Irish Times carries letter from Éan

    By Noreen Bowden | March 10, 2008

    The Irish Times has carried a letter from Éan on the issue of RTÉ’s medium-wave shutdown. Here is the text:

    Madam, – Your report on the launch of RTÉ’s upcoming television documentary series, “The Importance of Being Irish”, is not without irony. As RTÉ television celebrates the diaspora, RTÉ radio is turning its back on listeners overseas. On March 24th, RTÉ will shut down its medium wave broadcast of Radio 1; RTÉ says the Irish abroad who want to continue listening can switch to longwave, satellite or the internet – inadequate solutions for the oldest and most vulnerable listeners, who are the ones most likely to cherish this vital link with home.

    Neither medium-wave nor long-wave are perfect solutions for the Irish radio listener abroad – they each have their limitations, but together they allow for reasonably good penetration throughout Britain and into near Europe. Medium wave is the simplest solution for most of those living outside of London, because it provides a clear signal on an easily accessible format. Longwave on its own is inadequate: RTÉ acknowledges that long-wave is unavailable to most people abroad at night, due to significant interference from other stations.

    We believe the long-term solution lies in digital radio – specifically the long-range DRM format, which RTÉ has already begun testing. Cutting off medium wave before this solution is available is premature.

    RTÉ, which says it will save one million euro with this move, claims it does not have the resources to assist even the most vulnerable elderly among the Irish abroad in making the transition to longwave, as it is doing in the Republic.

    Since the publication of the Task Force Report on Emigration in 2002, Ireland has made tremendous strides in its relationship with the Irish abroad. The report recognised radio as a crucial link with home for the Irish abroad, and just last year, legislation was passed allowing for license fees to be spent on broadcasting radio to the Irish abroad. RTÉ’s actions are contradictory to both the spirit of that legislation and government efforts to enhance our relationship with our overseas citizens.

    RTÉ can do more than just celebrate our diaspora. It has the power to strengthen our links with the Irish abroad. Instead, it is severing them, and in so doing cutting off the generation to which Ireland owes a tremendous debt.

    Yours etc,

    Director – Emigrant Advice Network,
    North Brunswick St,
    Dublin 7.

    See the letter on the site at

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