Irish Republican News · February 15, 2008
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
RTE to cut off northern radio listeners

Politicians on both sides of the border have expressed dismay about a decision by the Irish state broadcaster, RTE, to drop its Radio 1 medium-wave service.

Radio 1 has traditionally been picked up on medium-wave by tens of thousands of listeners in the Six Counties. it is considered by many northern nationalists as their national station.

Opponents of RTE’s plans to axe its service have argued that it contradicts the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, in which both the British and Irish governments agreed that nationalist culture would be given “parity of esteem” with its unionist equivalent.

The 26 Counties’ Broadcasting Act of 2001 says RTE’s public service remit is to “provide a comprehensive range of programmes in the Irish and English languages that reflect the cultural diversity of the whole island of Ireland”.

Defending the decision to drop MW transmission, an RTE spokeswoman said the broadcaster was “obliged to deliver value for money for the public monies it receives” and urged listeners outside of FM coverage along the border to stream radio reception on the internet or else purchase a long-wave radio.

Politicians have expressed dismay about the decision.

SDLP assembly member PJ Bradley said RTE radio 1 “links the nation north and south”. He said RTE must reverse its decision to cut off people in the six counties.

“It is the national broadcaster and it must demonstrate its commitment to the people of Ireland,” he said.

“Why, even back in 1926 when Radio Eireann broadcast from Athlone the signal was available in each of the 32 counties. RTE cannot claim to be progressive if it pursues a reduction in service policy.”

Sinn Féin’s Barry McE-duff said it was “of absolute importance” that listeners across Ireland were able to access RTE radio.

“RTE is Ireland’s national broadcaster,” he said. “It is part of our heritage, culture and identity.

“I was brought up in a house where my mother was always talking about ‘crackling towards Athlone’ when she was tuning the radio. RTE has responsibilities, duties and obligations towards all of its listeners in the north.”

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© 2008 Irish Republican News