Wednesday 28 September 2016

New RTÉ boss tries to boost morale as exodus continues

Published 04/08/2016 | 02:30

RTÉ’s new director general Dee Forbes, left, has moved swiftly to reassure staff at the State
broadcaster following the departures of five high-profile employees.
RTÉ’s new director general Dee Forbes, left, has moved swiftly to reassure staff at the State broadcaster following the departures of five high-profile employees.

RTÉ's new director general Dee Forbes tried to boost morale in Montrose after another senior member of staff announced they would be stepping down from the station.

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Head of news and deputy director general Kevin Bakhurst told staff he was leaving the station yesterday morning.

Managing director Glen Killane has also left RTÉ. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Managing director Glen Killane has also left RTÉ. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

Mr Bakhurst is the fourth member of staff to leave the organisation in four weeks.

Managing director Glen Killane is moving to Eir, head of RTÉ2 Bill Malone is joining rival station TV3, while deputy MD of RTÉ news and current affairs Michael Good retired at the end of June. Ms Forbes' ­predecessor Noel Curran left the station in May.

The exodus of senior staff comes after RTÉ's annual report revealed a deficit of €2.8m in 2015 as costs rose more than revenue.

Ms Forbes addressed the RTÉ staff yesterday after news of Mr Bakhurst's resignation broke and told the newsroom it was reflective of an overall shift in the media landscape.

Head of news and deputy director general Kevin Bakhurst set to leave RTÉ.
Head of news and deputy director general Kevin Bakhurst set to leave RTÉ.

"Change can be disconcerting but ultimately I have always believed that change is good; with it, we challenge ourselves, our thinking and our ways of working," she said.

She added how organisations like RTÉ need to "grow and evolve" and "audiences must ultimately benefit".

Former BBC boss Mr Bakhurst will leave the station after four years to take up the offer of a job in Ofcom in the UK. And he insisted his leaving was completely unconnected to being overlooked for the job of RTÉ's director general.

"This didn't influence my decision," he told 'RTÉ News at One'.

Director General of RTE Noel Curran is set to be replaced by Dee Forbes. Photo: Damien Eagers
Director General of RTE Noel Curran is set to be replaced by Dee Forbes. Photo: Damien Eagers

"I went for that position and Dee is there now. I've been working very closely with Dee and she has got a real vision for the organisation.

Serious

"I would have been delighted to carry on working with her.

"That wasn't a factor, what was a factor was when these big jobs come up you have to give them serious consideration." He said that he never intended to leave, but an "exceptional role" came up in the UK.

Head of RTÉ2 Bill Malone is to leave for TV3. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins
Head of RTÉ2 Bill Malone is to leave for TV3. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins

Mr Bakhurst also hit out at the issue of public funding.

RTÉ received €179.8m in funding from licence fee revenue in 2015, up €300,000. However, advertising revenues have fallen dramatically.

"If Ireland is to continue having a powerful and important national broadcaster that is certainly something people should be turning their attention to," he said.

He said he had spent a "wonderful four years" at RTÉ and he was proud of its recent coverage of the General Election and 1916 commemorations.

Mr Bakhurst will leave RTÉ towards the end of October.

Deputy managing director of news and current affairs Michael Good retired at the end of June.
Deputy managing director of news and current affairs Michael Good retired at the end of June.

RTÉ will start the recruitment process shortly and are looking for potential replacements both within and outside the organisation.

Mr Bakhurst previously served as deputy head of the BBC newsroom and joined the national broadcaster in 2012.

Morale was low at the time, with RTÉ reeling from the scandal arising from the 'Mission to Prey' programme and the 'Tweetgate' incident on 'Frontline' during that year's presidential election campaign.

Irish Independent

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