As we anticipated in 2019 (news here), Ireland’s public broadcaster (Raidió Teilifís Éireann or RTÉ) will switch off the DAB channels on 31 March 2021, but will not close the RTÉ Gold, RTÉ 2XM, RTÉ Radio 1 Extra, RTÉ Pulse and RTÉjr Radio channels, which it will make available on other digital platforms. The decision was taken for three reasons: to reduce costs, the small number of listenersin the DAB band and the fact that RTÉ is the only Irish broadcaster in the digital band. The majority of Irish people (77%) listen to FM radio, compared to 0.5% for DAB. This is according to the latest radio listening survey (JNLR, Radio in a Digital World), conducted by market research institute Ipsos MRBI.
A restructuring plan “tears and blood” as announced by Deirdre Anne “Dee” Forbes, general director of the RTÉ (Raidió Teilifís Éireann). Over the next three years, cost-cuttings of up to 60 million euros are planned, including the stop of digital channel broadcasting only on DAB: RTÉ 2XM, RTÉ Pulse, RTÉ Gold, RTÉjr Radio and RTÉ Radio 1 Extra. The RTE director also called for legislative action to reduce the evasion of the radio and television license fee (estimated at 11%, with a loss of revenue of around 20 million euros). In recent years RTÉ had already reduced costs by 30%.
If the public radio will free the channels, there is a commercial radio enterprise looking to acquire them: According to Kevin Branigan, Chief executive officer of Radio Nova, they are interested in expanding coverage nationally. The Dublin broadcaster has a team of 40 people and is the only station of the capital, authorised to broadcast the signal within a radius of about 50 km to cover the country and the commuter belt.