How to continue listening to BBC radio in France

Longwave support has ended but alternatives exist, even for those who may struggle with technology

You can use a smart speaker to listen to radio shows

Longwave (LW) radio fans in France can use smart speakers to continue tuning into BBC favourites such as the Shipping Forecast, Daily Service and Test Match Special – as long as they are close to an internet box and have wifi. 

As of April 1, there has no longer been a separate schedule for BBC Radio 4 LW, as the LW platform, owned and operated by a third party, comes to the end of its life as a technology. 

Digital listening has grown significantly over the past decade and listeners are increasingly accessing content elsewhere on the BBC. 

Now, the small remaining audience for Radio 4 LW, broadcasting since 1988 on 198kHz, will also have to transition to alternative platforms, with the same content broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on FM and DAB, as well as online. 

There are several ways to listen online, including via the BBC Sounds app, via the BBC Sounds website, using internet radio devices, or through the virtual assistants on smart speakers, such as Amazon’s Alexa. 

Note that using the radio options on 3G or 4G mobile phone networks quickly uses up monthly data allowances, so you will need to be close to an internet box or wifi. 

'Smart' speakers are popular choice

John Campbell, managing director of Rabbit and Pork, which installs proprietary software into Alexa, said technophobes have no reason to be anxious about the switch. “Audio can be an easier way to interact with technology if you have not used smartphones, computers or tablets,” he said. 

For older listeners who might struggle to read screens, a smart speaker’s voice controls can be a boon, he added. 

“Walk into the kitchen and say ‘Alexa, play BBC Sounds, Radio 4’ and you are now listening to the latest news. 

Using a smartphone or website

You can use BBC Sounds by visiting or by installing the BBC Sounds app – just search ‘BBC Sounds’ in your app store. 

If your device is not supported, or if you are in a location where the app is not available, you can use the BBC Sounds website instead. 

To use the app, you will need to log in with a BBC account. 

Follow the on-screen prompts to create one if you do not already have one. You can read more about using the app outside the UK on the BBC’s help page here.

You can listen to most live and on-demand BBC radio content from anywhere in the world but, for rights reasons, certain sports coverage and some music content – particularly live concerts – may not be available. 

There is usually a link on the internet live page during a Test match for overseas listeners. 

Using Amazon devices

The BBC also has a help page dedicated to signing in to your BBC account on Alexa.

You will need a UK address associated with your account, and as the country selected under Content and Devices > Preferences > Country/Region settings. 

Alternatively, you can listen with an Amazon Firestick via a TV’s spare HDMI socket if the TV is connected to the internet. 

Again, use a UK address on your account, then download BBC Sounds from ‘Apps and Games’. 

If listening on a smartphone, you can use Bluetooth to play through a portable speaker.