THE merging of 'The Frontline' debate programme under the new 'Prime Time' umbrella will not take place in time for January as planned.
Host Pat Kenny has revealed 'The Frontline' will still be on RTE into 2013 in its usual Monday night slot as the station is still awaiting new 'Prime Time' sets and animations.
"RTE hoped they would have this ready for January but they won't. It can't physically be done, because no matter how well you design it on paper, you have to test what camera angles work.
"So there can be no new name for the programme until the new set and studio is ready, and I'd say that will happen in February," Mr Kenny told the Irish Independent.
Despite the controversy over the station's 'Frontline' Presidential debate, Mr Kenny said he didn't agree with the name of the programme being changed.
"No. Absolutely not. I don't think it needed to be changed at all," he said.
"I am sorry to lose the brand because I think we have built a very strong brand."
However, he conceded that it could be "confusing" for viewers if the backdrops of 'The Frontline' and two 'Prime Time' programmes appeared similar, saying: "It would be a bit like the BBC presenting 'Newsnight' and 'Question Time' from the one studio. That would be very odd.
"In addition, you couldn't call all three shows 'The Frontline' as 'Prime Time' as a brand has been around for 20 years. It would be a bit like the minnow eating the fish," said Mr Kenny.
He said "the exact same team" currently working on 'The Frontline' would produce the new Prime Time debate, airing at 9.30pm on Tuesdays.
He could not confirm if the new debate would be called 'Prime Time'.
"I don't know what it will be called. 'Prime Time' is the working title for the overarching new look. I don't think anything is set in stone. That is the plan but until the launch, nothing is firmed up until you go to air. But they will have to make decisions, very soon," he said.
Mr Kenny was speaking before he acted as compere of the annual Peter McVerry Trust Christmas Carol Concert in St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, last night.
The Dublin Male Voice Choir, Blanchardstown Brass Band, as well as singer Julie Feeney were among the performers at the concert, which raised funds to support young homeless people in Dublin.