Victory for radio users as longwave survives until 2017
RTE has revealed it will be extending its longwave radio service until 2017 after saying it would end transmission next year.
The decision comes after months of vigorous campaigning by users of the Longwave 252 service.
Enda O'Kane, a former worker at RTE who is now a broadcasting activist, believes the move is a step in the right direction, but added that his group will keep pushing until the broadcaster makes a permanent decision.
"I'm very happy with the extension, it's a step in the right direction and something that we can build on," he said. "We'll keep our database of leaflets ready to launch and keep up our social media campaign.
"Now is the opportunity to build on this success and move on towards a digital system that is being rolled out in India, which will make it easier for Ireland to go with a long-reach digital service."
Mr O'Kane said the petition the group had launched had gained a great deal of attention, with the online version receiving more than 2,000 signatures.
"We also received several thousand physical signatures offline, and although we haven't reached a tally yet, the petition is well over the 5,000 milestone we had set," he said.
It is the third time the broadcaster has announced a closure date for the longwave service.
It originally said it would end all transmissions on October 17, before extending that date to January 19.
In October, India began digitising its medium and shortwave services and started manufacturing its own Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) receivers.
DRM can accommodate more channels than AM at a higher quality.
Fine Gael TD John O'Mahony, who is chair of the Oireachtas Transport and Communications Committee, expressed his satisfaction at RTE's announcement to extend the longwave service.
"I'm delighted at the decision of the RTE board to retain the longwave service until at least 2017," he said.
However, the extension aims to eventually phase out longwave use entirely, cutting down in 2016 and ending the following year.
"Through the transition period, RTE Radio One will operate a full service in 2015, with reduced hours in 2016, working toward a full shutdown in 2017, giving more time for the transition away from longwave to alternative methods of listening," said Mr O'Mahony.
One elderly Irishman living in London, James Moriarty (85), who is originally from Co Kerry, previously told the Herald he fears he will lose his only connection to home if the service goes.