RTÉ has agreed to continue its longwave 252 service in the UK until the end of June 2019.
After that, RTÉ hopes Radio 1 will gain approval from UK authorities to launch via a chain of small broadcast networks which cover main urban centres. Currently, a broadcaster has to be based in the UK to obtain an Ofcom licence.
RTÉ says using the DAB+ platform will be considerably less (approx one fifth) than the present quarter of a million per annum that RTÉ expends in running costs for 252.
Minister of State for the Diaspora, Joe McHugh T.D., has welcomed the recommendations: “I am delighted that there is now a way forward that takes into account as much as possible the views of older members of the Irish community in Britain. I have committed to making a contribution to this via the Government of Ireland Emigrant Support Programme. The research we funded on this issue has made clear that RTÉ Radio is a fantastic resource for Irish people in Britain. I’d like also to acknowledge the leadership the Irish community in Britain has shown on this.”
RTÉ plan to launch a service on DAB+ digital radio modelled from RTÉ Radio 1 and to work with stakeholders to maintain contact with the Irish community in Britain. Details of this service are still being worked out but it is likely to include a limited amount of new targeted programming commissioned for audiences in Britain. As a terrestrial radio service this is subject to regulatory approval in the UK.
The UK Government is currently in consultation about deregulating the radio industry, including the option to have a foreign company hold a radio licence.