Business Irish

Tuesday 21 November 2017

First female director general refuses to fall behind the times

Profile: Dee Forbes

RTÉ’s director general Dee Forbes
RTÉ’s director general Dee Forbes

Anne-Marie Walsh

Cork native Dee Forbes's appointment to what is considered the top job in Irish media nine months ago was seen as a bold move by the RTÉ board and its chairwoman Moya Doherty.

They took a gamble on an outsider - the first external appointment in almost 50 years - to become director general of the national station, rather than a tried and tested in-house applicant.

She's the first woman to hold the title. Ms Forbes once worked in her family's pub in west Cork while studying history and politics at UCD. She moved to the UK in 1989, where she was based for over 27 years. She began her career with Young and Rubicam advertising agency, where she decided that the future was in media. Most recently, she was president and managing director of Discovery Networks Northern Europe, controlling 27 channels that broadcast to more than 276 million households.

She does not believe in staying behind the times. "We all see what happens when the world moves on and we remain static," she once said. "Nobody wants to be another HMV or a Blockbuster." But she has been criticised for her handling of a plan to source all children's programmes from the independent sector. Her new five-year plan will push her staying power and management skills to the limit as she tries to bring RTÉ into the digital age.

Irish Independent

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