Bill's PR plug not 'okey dokey' with RTE
Published 27/06/2010 | 05:00
RTE bosses have shown World Cup anchor Bill O'Herlihy a yellow card after he shamelessly plugged a betting firm he represents as a public relations consultant live on air.
The senior broadcaster's firm, O'Herlihy Communications, recently signed a lucrative contract to help launch Betpack.com -- a new online betting site formed by seven independent bookmakers.
As he anchored RTE's coverage of the Spain versus Honduras match last Monday night, the genial Mr O'Herlihy gave the betting odds on the match available from Betpack.
But the plug was not 'okey dokey' with senior Montrose executives, they confirmed to the Sunday Independent last Friday.
An RTE spokeswoman admitted that the veteran frontman of nine World Cups had been carpeted. The broadcaster said it was aware of the reference to a company made during World Cup coverage last Monday evening.
"While it is not unusual for a sports presenter to refer to the odds available on a sports event, and on occasion to quote the company responsible for offering those odds, RTE Sport believes it an inappropriate reference in these circumstances in which there is a commercial connection between the host and the company," the spokeswoman said.
The national broadcaster's disquiet was "communicated directly to Bill after the broadcast by an RTE Sport senior manager".
She said that Mr O'Herlihy had undertaken not to repeat any such reference.
Mr O'Herlihy, who has been with RTE since 1968, has fronted most of its major international sporting occasions since 1972, while at the same time running O'Herlihy Communications, a PR company.
In a blurb for Betpack.com on the website of O'Herlihy Communications, the PR firm describes the new entrant into online betting as "a historic move for the Irish bookmaking community".
Ironically, panellist Eamon Dunphy, who fronted a major advertising campaign for Betfair, has managed not to mention that company during his acerbic contributions to RTE's World Cup coverage.