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31st Mar 2023

RTÉ announces the date it will stop its long wave radio service

Stephen Porzio

long wave

The end of an era.

It has been announced that RTÉ Radio 1 will cease broadcasting on Long Wave 252 (LW 252) from Friday, 14 April 2023.

The term long wave refers to parts of the radio spectrum with longer wavelengths. As such, the LW version of Radio 1, which launched in 2004, is able to be received across the United Kingdom and is popular with Irish listeners abroad.

However, RTÉ has issued a statement assuring listeners in the UK that they can continue to enjoy Radio 1 on Freesat (channel 750), Sky (channel 0160) and Virgin Media (channel 917), as well as on their preferred audio streaming service, including the RTÉ Radio Player and Irish radio player apps. The full range of listening options is available on RTÉ’s website.

Announcing the move, the national broadcaster highlighted that the phasing out and closure of the long wave service was one of the recommendations of the Future of Media Commission Report, which was published by the Government in July 2022.

long wave rolling

RTÉ’s Director General Dee Forbes – Image via Leah Farrell/

This was part of a wider recommendation aimed at ensuring RTÉ could invest available resources in innovation and digital services. The national broadcaster said that further investment into the mast and transmitter, which it described as “no longer fit for purpose” and as having a “significant carbon emission footprint”, would significantly impair RTÉ’s ability to meet the emissions reductions target required to contribute to the National Climate Action Plan.

Summing up its decision to take the long wave service off the air in three points, RTÉ noted:

  • Like all businesses, RTÉ is seeking to reduce its energy usage in response to the climate crisis, public expenditure efficiency, and to reduce the burden on the national grid – and LW consumes significant energy.
  • The required investment to maintain the mast is very significant and given the greatly reduced number of listeners and the inaccessibility of longwave radio on newer devices means that this is a cost that is unfortunately no longer sustainable.
  • The increased accessibility of RTÉ services and content internationally in a range of other formats is reaching a wide audience.

Reflecting on the change, RTÉ’s Director General Dee Forbes said:

“While RTÉ has invested considerably in prolonging the life of the transmitter to broadcast RTÉ Radio 1 on Long Wave 252, we can no longer justify this investment. Not only is RTÉ Radio 1 widely available in the UK across television and online services, including apps and smart speakers, the energy costs involved along with the cost of replacing the transmitter mean that, in line with the recommendation of the Future of Media Commission Report, the time has come to bring the long wave service to a close. While this may be disappointing to some listeners, RTÉ must continue to invest in critical projects underpinning our production, distribution and business activities, as well as digital projects which are essential to ensure we continue to deliver value to our audiences.”

The RTÉ Information Office is available to answer questions regarding the long wave service on +353 12083434 or at [email protected].

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