RTÉ look like they are still keen to convert listeners in the UK to digital radio, as they commented on the results of a comprehensive Government-funded study on the habits of the Irish in Britain.
Even though the results show that longwave was an invaluable resource to some listeners here, RTÉ are looking to ‘chart a path forward’. Almost 3,200 people responded to the survey carried out by the Social Policy Research Centre of Middlesex University.
The findings suggest that over 70 per cent of listeners to RTÉ Longwave Services in Britain are aged over 60, a similar number of listeners were born in Ireland and that over 60 per cent are retired. For the majority of listeners, RTÉ Longwave is seen as a ‘lifeline’ to Ireland – with 76 per cent of respondents stating that the service ‘maintains a link with Ireland’ and 79 per cent of respondents indicating that it ‘brings me news from Ireland’.
The findings also indicate that a majority of listeners have a preference for the current analogue version of RTÉ Longwave Services over that available via digital platforms, computers, laptops and smartphones.
While a majority of Longwave listeners own a television, computer or laptop, they are less likely to own a smartphone, tablet or a DAB digital radio. The majority of listeners (61%) felt that they would need help on how to access digital radio platforms.
The research was overseen by a Consultative Group of key stakeholders comprised of representatives from RTÉ and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Irish Abroad Unit.
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan welcomed the publishing of results, stating it showed ‘the very significant role that RTÉ Longwave Services play in providing a link with home for many within the Irish community in Britain’.
Minister Flanagan also welcomed comments by members of the Consultative Committee who have also recognised the importance of the findings for informing the way forward.
Director of Operations for RTÉ Radio, JP Coakley said: “This is a strong insight into an important community.
“These listeners are engaged and technically quite savvy. “We look forward to working more closely with the Irish community in Britain and with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to chart a path forward.”