Wednesday 18 October 2017

Sharon Ni Bheolain might follow Bryan Dobson out the door of Six One in RTE news shake-up

Different roles: Bryan Dobson and Sharon Ni Bheolain.
Different roles: Bryan Dobson and Sharon Ni Bheolain.
RTÉ’s flagship news shows, including ‘Six One News’, presented by Sharon Ní Bheoláin, ran up hefty bills for their wardrobes
RTE star Claire Byrne, on the set of Claire Byrne Live. Picture: Fergal Phillips
Ray Kennedy presenting with Sharon Ni Bheolain
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Sharon Ni Bheolain could be joining Bryan Dobson in leaving the Six One news in a further shake-up at RTE.

The national broadcaster confirmed this week that Dobson would be moving to its flagship radio show, Morning Ireland, on October 30.

Now speculation is mounting of further changes to the teatime TV news in November, with a suggestion that Ni Bheo-lain will become the anchor of the 9pm news. Sources inside Montrose said all options are being explored, including installing two new presenters at the Six One desk in a "substantial" revamp of news and current affairs.

"There's the option to simply replace Dobson, or it could be an opportunity to overhaul the Six One," said the source.

Ray Kennedy presenting with Sharon Ni Bheolain
Ray Kennedy presenting with Sharon Ni Bheolain

"By bringing in a different presenting team they will create a completely new dynamic."

Ni Bheolain has worked on Six One with Dobson for 13 years. In 2013, she hinted she was open to a change when she told the RTE Guide she was "looking for something new". However, she has remained a key player on Six One.

If she leaves, RTE bosses will have to find two broadcasting hard-hitters as replacements. Another suggestion is the introduction of two presenting teams to share the roles during the course of a week, each appearing on alternate nights.

"There are lots of possibilities rather than probabilities regarding what will happen in the RTE newsroom and who will replace who," the source said.

RTÉ’s flagship news shows, including ‘Six One News’, presented by Sharon Ní Bheoláin, ran up hefty bills for their wardrobes
RTÉ’s flagship news shows, including ‘Six One News’, presented by Sharon Ní Bheoláin, ran up hefty bills for their wardrobes

"Nothing is set in stone yet, bar Bryan leaving at the end of October. That's the only thing that's certain."

RTE bosses have two months to replace Dobson. Presenters Ray Kennedy, David McCullagh and Claire Byrne have all been tipped as potential successors. Kennedy stood in for Dobson while he was recently on leave, and has worked across radio and television for several years.

Prime Time's McCullagh is also believed to be in with a shot. Another in the reckoning is Byrne, though she brushed aside speculation during a recent media event, saying she "hadn't heard anything".

"I think just about everyone in RTE has been linked to the job," she said.

RTE star Claire Byrne, on the set of Claire Byrne Live. Picture: Fergal Phillips
RTE star Claire Byrne, on the set of Claire Byrne Live. Picture: Fergal Phillips

Broadcast bosses said details of Dobson's replacement would be released "in due course" and added that there are "no further indications at this point".

Dobson was at the centre of the gender pay row this summer, when it emerged Ni Bheolain earns about €80,000 less than him. RTE has refused to say whether his switch to radio would affect his pay packet.

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