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Protesters highlight plans to axe RTÉ longwave radio service at Manchester St Patrick's Day parade

RTÉ is expected to switch off its longwave radio service this year

CAMPAIGNERS are to take part in a Patrick's Day parade in Britain to highlight plans by RTÉ to axe its popular longwave radio service.

A group of campaigners calling for the retention of the Radio 1 longwave 252 service will stage a protest at the Manchester parade on Sunday March 12.

The service is due to be scrapped later this year, after earning a temporary three-year reprieve in 2014 following vocal opposition.

However, discussions between members of a steering group which is examining the issue remain ongoing and RTÉ has said that "positive progress" has been made.

The Irish state broadcaster previously defended the decision, claiming the money they would save annually would help meet other running costs while pointing out that Radio 1 is available through a variety of digital platforms.

A survey carried out by the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) at Middlesex University - which excluded the north - showed that 92 per cent of respondents in Britain tuned in to the service every day or most days, while 44 per cent listened via longwave in the car.

Independent Senator Billy Lawless, who is based in Chicago and is leading calls for the service to be saved, told the Seanad last month: "Unsurprisingly, it was the so-called older age groups who did not access the service on digital radio platforms, on a laptop or digital TV."

One of those taking part in the protest, Myra Butler Shaw, said it was an important issue to highlight.

"I know of housebound people, who rarely have anybody calling, who listen to RTÉ day and night. It is their friend, the voice of home. It allows them many a nostalgic trip to their roots."

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