Fair weather blamed as viewers fail to tune in for Anne's farewell
JUST 387,000 viewers tuned into Anne Doyle's final evening news broadcast on Christmas night -- down 259,000 on last year.
Ms Doyle's eight-minute-long final broadcast aired at 8.50pm, earlier than the usual time due to the Christmas schedule.
The popular newsreader has said she is looking forward to retirement and claimed the prospect of being off air didn't feel odd to her.
RTE attributed the huge drop from 637,000 viewers last year to the Arctic weather during Christmas 2010.
Audience numbers were boosted last year as thousands of people who eventually made it home for Christmas amid sub-zero temperatures decided to stay indoors and watch TV.
Meanwhile, the top-rated programme across all Irish channels on Christmas Day this year is unlikely to be a hit with the critics.
But 'Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas Special' on RTE One attracted some 880,000 viewers.
And the British soap 'EastEnders' landed in second position with 563,000 viewers.
RTE revealed yesterday that eight out of the top 10 shows on Christmas Day were screened by the national broadcaster.
The Dubliners' 50th anniversary special with Gay Byrne was another big ratings hit in third place, with over half a million audience members enjoying the legendary band's performance.
An RTE spokesperson said last night they were delighted with the response to their festive schedule.
And TV3 revealed that its audience has grown by a fifth since 2008 with the station now screening more than 2,600 hours of home-produced content in 2011.
The station's biggest ratings success of the year was being the host broadcaster for the UEFA Europa League Final in Dublin last May with the match between Portuguese teams FC Porto and Sporting Braga reaching more than a million viewers.
Meanwhile, radio presenter Aine Lawlor -- who has taken a step back from the microphone to battle cancer -- thanked listeners for their support in a seasonal message.
The 'Morning Ireland' veteran, widely respected as one of best current affairs interviewers in the country, posted the message on RTE's website in recent days.
Ms Lawlor, who has presented RTE's flagship radio show for 16 years, took a break in October after it emerged she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
"Just want to say a very big thank you to the many listeners who were so kind to write and send good wishes for my recovery, especially those who'd come through their own gruelling cancer treatments and those who wrote from abroad," she wrote. "All your kind letters, emails, cards and prayers have been a real bonus this past while. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."