Transmitter work to result in shutdowns and reduced service for BBC Radio 4 LW and 5 Live

The BBC's transmitter site at Droitwich.
Analogue reception of BBC Radio 4 LW and BBC Radio 5 Live are going to be impacted during the coming months due to maintenance works at the BBC's AM transmitter site at Droitwich. 

Listeners are being advised to switch to digital platforms while the long wave antenna and the masts that support it are refurbished.

Droitwich is the Worcestershire home of the main BBC Radio 4 198kHz LW transmitter, serving much of England, Wales and the near continent as well as BBC Radio 5 Live's MW service on 693 kHz for much of the Midlands and East Wales.

Work will commence from Saturday 29th March 2014 and is scheduled to last until "the summer", according to the BBC.
  • BBC Radio 4 LW will be subject to shutdowns between 10:00-17:30 during this period, exact times will vary.
  • BBC Radio 5 Live will be subject to reduced power, with daytime transmission being moved to a nearby temporary transmitter at Kenilworth.

According to the BBC, the disruption to services is "to enable engineers to work safely, while refurbishing the long wave antenna, and the two masts which support it."

Alternative reception
During the affected times, BBC Radio 4's output on 198kHz, which between 10:00 and 17:30 includes the LW-only midday shipping forecast, will be broadcast on Sky, Freesat and iPlayer Radio. Any cricket coverage scheduled during the maintenance periods will be available via BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra on digital radio.

BBC Radio 4 198 LW from Scottish transmitter sites will be unaffected, enabling ongoing reception via long wave in many parts of the north of the British Isles.

Listeners affected by disruption to BBC Radio 5 Live's service are being advised to listen via DAB digital radio, or via Freeview, Freesat, Sky, Virgin Media and iPlayer Radio. Listeners in central southern England who listen via 693 kHz may find better reception on 909 kHz.

There has been no suggestion that the BBC will close any of its national AM radio services, with services returning to normal after the completion of the work in the summer.

updated: 26/03/2014 18:27

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  1. It will be interesting to see what effect this has. If the BBC does not get too many complaints they might be very tempted to ditch these costly AM services althugh obviously with the fact that the BBC has a contract to provide the shiping forecast, this migh be difficult for 198 long wave. I can remember back in the 70s when the long wave mast was blown down and long wave was off air for three days. Then, BBC1 was opened up to carry the Today programme and coastal BBC locals had to carry the shipping forecasts.

  2. Oh so that's what it is - I wondered what was going on. Fortunately nowadays we're equipped with live radio on computers and smartphones, if the same thing had happened 10 or 20 years ago I'd be suffering extreme withdrawal systems!

  3. agree with Laurita. Wondered why the reception was so poor in Swindon and now I know!

  4. Even more in central France! Can get it on the "box" but to sit on the kitchen with a bottle of local to hand is a joy at breakfast (sans bottle), lunchtime for the news and the evening with the Archers. Hurry up chaps!

  5. I'm just west of Brussels and could not understand why the reception was so variable during the day.
    Sometimes perfect, then almost inaudible, then back again.
    But this explains it and gives hope.
    Please BBC, don't be tempted to turn the transmitter off for good.

  6. Living near Paris LW 198 is all important to me. In the car and at home.
    I've only just got over your sabotaging BBB World .. how I miss the light entertainment and drama at night, now only news, news and more news and all for Africa and Asia..

    Please, please can you transmit cricket somewhere else than BBC 4. Are there really that many cricket listeners to force you to forget everyone else for several days at a stretch. I really think some listener research is needed here.
    David Hyde.

  7. I hope we don't eventually lose this service. I know I can listen to Radio 4 on sky via my tv and on my computer but when pottering in the garden it's so nice to wander with my portable radio. We live in Normandy and it is an important part of my life.
    Peter Bush.

  8. Couldn't agree more with David Morgan. As someone who would rather watch the grass grow than watch or listen to cricket, I end up with the withdrawal symtoms described by Laurita. We have to know, just how many people listen to cricket 24 hours a day (it seems like) for several weeks?

  9. We're keeping this article open for comments a little longer than usual. Note that comments that go into the moderation queue will not appear on the website immediately - but do check back later.

  10. Just to echo the above thoughts. I'm a licence-fee payer in England but live nearly half the year in Normandy. Radio 4 LW is like a friend and I hope the LW transmission continues.

  11. "I remember when" the BBC transmitted to Paris on VHF/FM !!
    It was in June 1994 during the 50th anniversary of D-Day.
    The Queen will be coming again next month so maybe Auntie had better think about it !
    Seriously, it is a royal pain not to have Radio 4 on 198kHz.

  12. Steam radio from droitwich is the only way to listen to TMS cricket commentary "due to rights restrictions". so "the summer" cannot come soon enough for me.

  13. Quite agree about the withdrawal symptoms. I live in North Brittany and suffer similarly ! Agree also about the excess cricket - the BBC has a sport channel, why not just use that ? We even get crocket when it rains for hours - with memories of what happened decades ago? what on earth is the point or interest in that ?
    Looking forward to summer !

  14. Thanks for info, I live in west Cork, Ireland, listen a lot to radio 4 LW, listen to cricket constantly, though I'm not sure what's going on. An indispensable service.

  15. I am suffering withdrawal as habitually listen to LW when walking on my Roberts 994. Signal is not affected by hills/valleys/even radio masts. I would like to complain to BBC, but have given up with the website, not so much about being down for maintenance but because there is nothing on their own website about this.

  16. Hello Mrs Chris.

    Sorry for the delay in getting your comment published through the moderation queue.

    The BBC has published details about Radio 4 LW disruptions at:

    The work should be concluded soon, but an exact date has not yet been provided.

  17. I am currently receiving Radio 4 LW in Leiden in The Netherlands via the Westerglen transmitter loacted near Falkirk.

  18. Yes yes yes to please don't decide to drop 198LW and please reconsider cricket coverage there - why can't it go on BBC Radio 5 Live? I'm another continental listener (Belgium) and have also only just discovered why mt reception has been so erratic recently.

  19. Extraordinary that the shutdowns haven't affected the cricket coverage. Please bring back 198 LW soon. I cannot get Internet at work,

  20. Ah, good - glad it wasn't just my car radio gone up the swanney, glad they let the cricket finish before doing the work though!

  21. I live in Brussels and am eagerly awaiting the return of 198LW. First we lose the World Service transmission to Europe and now this - I would pay a licence fee if I was asked to. I speak French but the radio stations are commercial which makes for lots of distraction. My kids love listening to the radio as they go to sleep - and no we do not have wifi throughout our tall, narrow Belgian house.

  22. Long wave is a safety issue in situation as in Iceland today local FM are expected to be damaged during the disaster and many FM transmitters in other parts of the country have no power back up and will go offline,only radio left on air will be Long wave
    Announcement on this from the Icelandic state broadcaster.English text under the Icelandic one

  23. Radio 4 is one of the best stations I know about it can be picked up in most of Iceland on a descent car radio such as Pioneer but the local LW transmitters are on either side of it (189 and 207 khz) so its not possible to listen very close to them


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