Sunday 11 December 2016

New RTÉ boss tries to boost morale as exodus continues

Published 04/08/2016 | 07:32

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

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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Dee Forbes gave RTE staff a morale-boosting speech following Kevin Bakhurst’s resignation – addressing the “significant change” taking place in the station.

The managing director of news and current affairs – who also served as the broadcaster’s deputy director general – is the third high-profile RTE executive to leave the station in recent weeks.

He follows RTE2 boss Bill Malone, who is going to TV3, and head of RTE Television Glen Killane, who is moving to Eir. The news comes after the broadcaster’s annual report revealed a deficit of €2.8m in 2015.

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

But in a move to allay speculation about the future of the organisation, the Herald can reveal how the newly-installed Director General told the RTE newsroom how there was a shift in the overall media landscape.

“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 that organisations such as RTE need to “grow and evolve” and “audiences must ultimately benefit”.

Mr Bakhurst, a former deputy head of BBC News, confirmed this week he was leaving RTE after four years to take up a job in Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator.

He insisted that his leaving the station was unconnected to being overlooked for the job of RTE’s Director General.

“This didn’t influence my decision,” he told RTE News at One.

Vision

“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.

“I would have been delighted to carry on working with her,” he added.

He said that he never intended to leave, but an “exceptional role” came up with the UK communications watchdog.

Mr Bakhurst also hit out at the issue of public funding, with €179.8m being made from licence fee revenue in 2015.

“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 told how he had spent a “wonderful four years” at RTE and he was proud of its recent coverage of the general election and 1916 commemorations.

Herald

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