Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Long slow goodbye of BBC Radio 4 on Long Wave...

The Long Wave Band covers frequencies from 144 kHz to 281 kHz and was once a popular band in Europe for broadcasting. Over the last decade or so, these transmitters have been switched off leaving listeners to find an alternative service on the FM band, DAB or online.

One of the big signals on the band is BBC4 Radio 4 from Droitwich in the east of England on 198 kHz. In May of 2023, it was announced that the BBC would stop scheduling separate content for Radio 4 on long wave and this is expected to happen at the end of March 2024.

There is a group lobbying for the continuation of the BBC Radio 4 long wave service and they have a website here... As of mid-March 2024, they had a petition from 3000 people over a period of 8-months.

In September of 2024, the BBC News website had an article about the decline of the long wave band...

In that article, a BBC spokeswoman told BBC News that ..."Long wave is coming to the end of its life as a technology," and that "Radio 4 long wave is currently set to continue broadcasting beyond March 2024."

Receivers... One of the key problems with listening to Long Wave transmissions now is the declining number of radios available.

Curry's is a large electrical retailer in the UK and would be an obvious source if say a member of the public was going to buy a radio. Out of the 67 or so radios that they currently have on offer, just one (Roberts Play) has the Long Wave option for listening. As fewer people listen to Long Wave then there is no reason for manufacturers to include it in their newer models which in turn means a declining audience. 

Radio Teleswitch Service (RTS)... One of the primary reasons for continuing BBC Radio 4 transmissions at present (March 2024) is that the signal is used for timing on electrical meters in many domestic households.

This technology was rolled out back in the 1980's & 1990's and allowed simple basic meters to determine what the time was so that customers could make use of cheaper night-rate electricity.

The inside of one of these control boxes shows a ferrite rod antenna for receiving the 198 kHz signal on the Long Wave band.

At present, these old meters are being replaced with modern Smart Meters.

Date of Radio 4 Switch Off???... The Citizen Advice service in the UK offers the following... "You might have been told by your electricity supplier you need to have your radio teleswitch (RTS) or dynamically teleswitched (DTS) electricity meter replaced. This is because the radio frequency it uses to switch between peak and off-peak rates is being switched off.

The radio frequency is expected to be switched off in summer 2025. Ofgem, the energy regulator, currently expects all RTS and DTS meters to be replaced by March 2025."

Octopus Energy is a UK electricity supplier and offer the following more specific information... " The current planned end date for the transmission is the 30th June 2025."

Assuming the current programme of meter replacement stays on schedule then it looks as if the last BBC Long Wave transmission will be at the end of June 2025.

Video... Lewis, M3HHY has a very good video about the Droitwich long wave transmitter site.


Anonymous said...

Very sad to see the plans to axe the Longwave Broadcast Station. After thus cutdown, only Polish Radio 225kHz will be active in Europe. 73s, DL2GAN

gccradioscience said...

If BBC 4 on LW shuts down, then I know next time not to tune in regularly online. Why waste time and energy tuning into a radio station that used to cover the Atlantic Ocean and the rest of the world? It seems that BBC 4 does not want International low frequency listeners anymore they want to fall apart in the ratings. Because of RTE 1 shutting down their long wave transmitter, I stopped listening to their station online. Same went with France Inter, DLF, and RTL. It just does not seem right listening to a former low frequency world band radio station online while others are left out in the cold because they cannot afford a decent Internet connection to tune in online.

Anonymous said...

I'm not interestedin wasting cel phone battery / cell phone data plans or power hungry
DAB receivers that die after a measly 4 hours.

Longwave is great.

Simple rx last for years on a few AA cells, no floppy and broken telescopic whips.