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Dublin: 3°C Tuesday 1 December 2020
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Your FM radio won't fall silent any time soon

The Department of Communications has said it has ‘no plans’ to switch off the frequency.

Image: Flickr

THIS WEEK, NORWAY became the first country in the world to announce an FM radio switch-off, a radical step in the world of broadcasting.

However, Ireland has no intention of following in these Nordic footsteps just yet.

The Norwegian Minister of Culture said the move was promoted by new figures showing that 50% of the population were now listening to radio on digital platforms.

Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) provides a higher-quality signal that FM, and is also considerably cheaper to broadcast on.

Although radio stations will no longer broadcast on the frequency in the four main cities, as many as 200 local or community radio stations will still broadcast on FM.

Radio remains hugely popular in Ireland, with 84% of the population listening to it everyday, but like other European countries people are more frequently listening via the internet on a website or app, or through DAB.

Responding to queries from TheJournal.ie, the Department of Communications said DAB trials are being supported, but “the phasing out of FM radio in Ireland is not under consideration”.

“FM will continue for the foreseeable future,” a statement read.

It notes that RTÉ is currently broadcasting on DAB from five locations around Ireland, with a separate commercial trail currently taking place in Dublin. Another trial took place in from 2010 in the South East, including stations like Tipp FM and South East Radio.

“In addition, the Broadcasting Act 2009 permits the services of analogue sound broadcasting contractors to be retransmitted in a digital format on UPC and other cable television systems,” the Department added, “and a number of radio services are available in a digital format via this medium, including RTÉ radio services and those of a number of local and national sound broadcasters.”

The state broadcaster currently offers several stations only on digital, such as 2XM and RTÉ Gold.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland is monitoring the development of digital radio in Ireland, will meet with stakeholders in future to discuss its potential.

All major radio stations in Ireland still broadcast on FM, but just Spirit and RTÉ remain on AM.

RTE’s Longwave 252 service was due to be laid to rest earlier this year, but will now remain until 2017 following a public outcry.

The broadcaster doesn’t seem that keen on keeping it, calling longwave “an outdated and costly technology, representing poor value for money”.

Read: Miss Hector’s voice on the airwaves? We have good news for you… >

About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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