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Friday 29 August 2014

Browne heads for Newstalk after RTE scraps his show

New programme 'Eleventh Hour' next victim in station shake-up

Jason O'Brien

Published 05/07/2007 | 00:00

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Facing the chop...broadcaster Vincent Browne during his famous election campaign grilling of Bertie Ahern

VETERAN broadcaster Vincent Browne is on his way to Newstalk after being dropped by Radio 1 as part of another major reshuffle.

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Less than a month after dismissing speculation that he was to join Denis O'Brien's station as "total bullshit", Mr Browne admitted yesterday that he was in discussions with the outfit after RTE dropped the 'Tonight' show.

The Irish Independent understands that the 'Eleventh Hour' will join it on the scrapheap.

The programme, presented by Paraic Breathnach, replaced 'Rattlebag' as the station's showcase arts show just nine months ago.

And, in a repeat of events at Montrose last summer, Ana Leddy, the head of Radio 1, has again shaken up the backroom teams on a number of high-profile shows, including 'Today' with Pat Kenny.

RTE said that it would issue a statement regarding its evening schedule today.

Disappointed

"I am disappointed with the decision to drop the 'Tonight' programme on RTE Radio 1, but I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to present it for 10 years," Mr Browne said yesterday

"I thank RTE for that opportunity and would also like to thank all those who worked with me on the programme, the participants and the listeners."

The 'Tonight' show went out at 10pm from Monday to Thursday and was famous for its host's entertaining questioning, and for its re-enactments of various tribunals.

It is understood that falling listenership figures were behind the decision by Ms Leddy to drop the show.

"Vincent Browne has been consistently losing listeners for a while now, and he was also having problems holding down a backroom team, so it was probably coming," one Montrose insider said.

However, the 62-year-old said he was leaving RTE on good terms and revealed that he yesterday signed a contract with Random House to write a biography on his old sparring partner, Charles J Haughey.

And just a month after strongly denying to this paper that he was going to move to a rival station, Mr Browne said yesterday that he has "had a recent discussion with a representative of Newstalk, however, nothing has been agreed or arranged".

The 'Eleventh Hour' was strongly criticised when it first started as it marked a move for the arts from the primetime afternoon slot it had enjoyed with 'Rattlebag'.

A new arts programme will now go out from 8pm each evening, presented by the poet Vincent Wood.

It will be followed by two hours of arts, documentaries, features and music.

A new politics show will also go out from 11pm each night. It is understood that it will be presented by well-known current affairs broadcaster and sport pundit Tom McGurk.

A number of backroom teams on high-profile programmes during the day have also been targeted in the latest shake-up.

Last year, the entire 'Tubridy Show' team of producers and researchers were moved elsewhere, while shows like the 'Mystery Train' and 'Rattlebag' were dropped.

This year, the Irish Independent understands that there have been a number of changes to the backroom team on the Pat Kenny show and others.

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