Northern Ireland news

RTÉ blasted for excluding NI listeners from longwave radio survey

Campaigners in Northern Ireland and Britain say elderly people will be worst hit by the loss of RTÉ's Radio 1 Longwave 252 service

RTÉ CHIEFS have been accused of turning their backs on the broadcaster’s audience in the north after excluding them from a survey on its popular Radio 1 Longwave 252 service.

Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff today revealed he has written to RTÉ director general Noel Curran this week demanding that the north’s TV viewers and radio listeners receive all the same services as their southern counterparts.

“RTÉ’s management have again and again exposed evidence of a partitionist mindset that leaves people here feeling disenfranchised,” he added.

The West Tyrone MLA said people’s desire to have “full access” to RTÉ’s TV, radio and online services were “driven by their cultural interests”.

Mr McElduff was speaking after it emerged that RTÉ and the Republic’s Department of Foreign Affairs have begun working with the Irish in Britain group to carry out a survey among Longwave 252 listeners in Britain.

However, listeners in the north are not being approached to take part in the research, which is being conducted by the Social Policy Research Centre at Middlesex University.

The Irish News contacted both RTÉ and the Department of Foreign Affairs to comment on concerns regarding the north’s exclusion from the survey however no response has yet been received.

Michael Burke of the London-based Irish in Britain group said that while they were “very conscious” of Northern Ireland they only represented “Irish people living in Britain”.

The group, which recently appointed Newry man Peter McNulty as its new chair, said: “As part of RTÉ’s consultation period on the future of longwave radio broadcasting, research funded by the Irish Government is being currently conducted among the Irish community in Britain.

“This research aims to find out about those who use this longwave service, where they live, and how they feel about the service. The research will also try to establish if the community is aware of, and can access other ways of listening to RTÉ Radio 1.

“It is important that all of those who receive this longwave service in Britain, have their say in its future. So we are asking you, the listener to take part in a short survey.”

In a statement, Middlesex University said: “The survey is being conducted to help the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Ireland, RTÉ and the organization Irish in Britain to find out about the value of RTÉ Radio 1 on longwave to the Irish community in Britain.”

RTÉ sparked a storm of public protest in September last year when it revealed plans to end its longwave service from October 27 2014 in favour of its FM, online, mobile and digital services.

Broadcasting bosses defended the decision, claiming that they needed the €250,000 the move would save annually to help meet other running costs.

However, following vocal opposition in Northern Ireland and Britain RTÉ postponed the shutdown date until 2017.

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