Ministers Flanagan and McHugh Welcome Research Findings on RTÉ Radio Longwave Listenership03 June 2016
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan T.D., and the Minister of State for the Diaspora, Joe McHugh T.D., have welcomed the publication of research findings on the current level of listenership to RTÉ Radio Longwave Services amongst the Irish community in Britain.
Based on a survey of almost 3,200 respondents carried out by the Social Policy Research Centre of Middlesex University, the findings suggest that just over 70% of listeners to RTÉ Longwave Services in Britain are aged over 60; that a similar number of listeners were born in Ireland and that just over 60% are retired. For the majority of listeners, RTÉ Longwave is seen as a ‘lifeline’ to Ireland – with 76% of respondents stating that the service ‘maintains a link with Ireland’ and 79% 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, the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade’s Irish Abroad Unit and the Irish community in Britain.
Commenting on its findings, Minister Flanagan said:
“I am pleased that this research has now been completed by Middlesex University and I would like to thank them for their work on this very important topic. I would also like to particularly thank all those members of the Irish community in Britain who engaged with the process.
“I believe that these findings constitute a key information resource. They demonstrate the very significant role that RTÉ Longwave Services play in providing a link with home for many within the Irish community in Britain. In particular it demonstrates the value of the service for the more elderly members of the community. These findings also offer a strong basis from which to move forward on this issue over the period ahead and I am hopeful that a positive outcome can be achieved."
Minister of State McHugh added:
“This research clearly highlights the importance of the RTÉ Longwave Service for the Irish community in the UK, and especially amongst its older members, in maintaining their links to Ireland. We have gained a clearer picture of those who listen to the Longwave Service and of their particular needs.
“While any decision on the future of Longwave Services in Britain is ultimately an operational matter for RTÉ, I hope that it will be informed by awareness of the role that the Service plays in preserving and enhancing links with Ireland.’’
Minister Flanagan and Minister State McHugh also welcomed comments by members of the Consultative Committee who have also recognised the importance of the findings for informing the way forward. The 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."
Sally Mulready, an Irish community member of the Consultative Group commented:
“This research confirms how essential it will be going forward for RTÉ to commit to maintaining informed and supportive links with our community. This is especially so for the generation of Irish people who feel that the Longwave Service enables them to have their own special link with Ireland. It is precious and it is important for RTÉ to be conscious and sensitive to that.”
A further meeting of the Consultative Group will take place over the coming months to consider the research findings in detail and to discuss the next steps.
3 June 2016
Notes for Editors:
• The research was conducted by the Social Policy Research Centre at Middlesex University, who were appointed following a competitive tender process run by Irish in Britain, the umbrella group for Irish organisations in Britain. The purpose of the research was to examine:
o the frequency of listenership to the RTE Longwave Service;
o attitudes towards its broadcast content; and
o perceived benefits and weaknesses in the Service.
• Information was gathered through individual submissions, group submissions and focus groups.
• A full summary of the findings is available on the website of Irish in Britain at www.irishinbritain.org.