Radio station quiet over Smyth 'removal'
Published 17/10/2011 | 05:00
TODAY FM has declined to release the listenership figures it blamed for the removal of journalist Sam Smyth from his Sunday morning radio programme.
Station management pointed to a "decline" in the 'Sam Smyth on Sunday' audience over several years as its reason for his termination.
However, when asked to provide specific details last night, a station spokeswoman said that it was not in a position to do so.
Mr Smyth, an Irish Independent journalist who has also worked at Today FM and its predecessor Radio Ireland for the past 14 years, will finish up after three more shows, the final being broadcast from New York in November. He is to be replaced by Anton Savage.
It is understood that Mr Smyth is now seeking legal advice with the intention of resisting the move, which became known on Saturday.
Today FM yesterday issued a statement in response to what it described as "false and misleading" media speculation understood to relate to legal action taken against Mr Smyth by Today FM owner and businessman Denis O'Brien.
The litigation followed comments about Mr O'Brien by Mr Smyth in an article in the Irish Independent as well as on the TV3 show 'Tonight with Vincent Browne'.
They related to a report from the Moriarty Tribunal outlining the relationship between Tipperary North TD and former communications minister Michael Lowry and Mr O'Brien during the latter's bid for a second mobile phone contract for Esat Digifone.
Mr O'Brien is a shareholder in Independent News & Media, which publishes the Irish Independent.
Mr Smyth would not comment on the matter last night in respect of legal advice.
Sources close to the journalist said, however, that he was neither surprised nor shocked by the move.
"The overall market share of the station is down but Sam Smyth has not fallen lower than anyone else and his figures are holding up," the source said.
"You don't start changing programme schedules in November... and you don't start with Sunday."