Chris Donoghue to quit UTV news anchor role to focus on Newstalk Breakfast
Broadcaster Chris Donoghue is to quit his presenter role on UTV’s nightly news.
The 31-year-old will vacate his position as co-anchor on Ireland Live in December, less than a year after being unveiled as one of the new station’s big name signings.
Donoghue, who also presents Newstalk Breakfast with Ivan Yates, handed in his resignation last Friday but was offered a new role making documentaries for the series Insight.
Staff at the embattled channel were also told yesterday that former TV3 news anchor Alan Cantwell is to join the news operation.
Sources said Cantwell will act as a news editor and will not be replacing Donoghue.
“There is no connection between Chris leaving and Alan arriving. It has all just happened around the same time. The plan is not for Alan to be the new anchor,” said a source.
Cantwell fronted TV3’s news from the time of the station’s launch in 1998 until January 2013 when he decided to leave, saying he wanted a change.
“Just to let you know that Alan Cantwell will be joining us in the newsroom tomorrow, Tuesday. He will be shadowing some shifts on the news desk, please make him feel welcome,” an email to UTV staff said yesterday.
Donoghue is currently on Newstalk from 7am to 10am each weekday before switching to television at 10pm three nights a week. His co-anchor at UTV is Alison Comyn.
His decision to leave is a major blow for UTV which is struggling to compete with RTE and TV3.
Latest figures for Ireland Live show it is achieving audiences of fewer than 40,000.
“I’ve been working across 19-hour days now for a year and something had to give,” Donoghue said.
“I have to focus on Newstalk Breakfast which has always been my full-time job.
“However, I’m happy about the subsequent offer of the Insight programme from management at UTV Ireland.
“I’ve made some great friends and worked with some brilliant colleagues, particularly Alison Comyn.”
In a statement, UTV Ireland’s Head of Channel Mary Curtis confirmed that Donoghue will step down in “early December”.
“Thereafter, Chris will work with UTV Ireland on our successful documentary series, Insight, a series of special programmes produced by the Ireland Live News team.
“We fully understand Chris’ decision and we are delighted to be continuing our relationship with such an exceptional journalist and broadcaster.”
It is almost exactly a year since Donoghue was announced as the co-anchor of the news programme.
He admitted at the time that working both jobs would be a challenge, but said he had “always wanted to develop a role in television”.
His departure comes only weeks after news that UTV has decided not to renew Pat Kenny’s talk show, In the Round, for a second season.
It featured him interviewing guests in front of a live audience in the Round Room of Dublin’s Mansion House.
The line-up included Tyrone manager Mickey Harte, astronaut Chris Hadfield and singer Daniel O’Donnell and his wife Majella. UTV said it is discussing future projects with him.