'It may take viewers from RTE's 9 O'Clock news but that's not the intention' - Colette Fitzpatrick on Virgin Media News' 8pm bulletin
TV3 is re-branding to Virgin Media Television today, and will launch a new look and a new nightly News at 8 bulletin under Virgin Media News, hosted by Claire Brock.
The new programme will build on the 5.30pm bulletin hosted by Colette Fitzpatrick, who also fronts the 12.30pm lunchtime news for the station.
It will also preempt rival station RTE's main evening 9 o'clock news by an hour, although both anchors insist that pulling viewers from the State broadcaster to their earlier bulletin is "not the intention".
"We're just doing this because this is an opportunity for Virgin Media News to promote their [news] at another time and put ourselves out there and inform the viewers at that time," Claire told Indepedent.ie.
"We're not going head to head, we're doing this because it's a good time and a good time to get viewers."
The new bulletin fills the length gap that existed between the 5.30pm bulletin and the next bulletin at 10pm.
Colette said, "It may well take viewers [from RTE], but that's not the intention. That's not the reason behind it. It's to go it alone. It's an hour earlier. It's not the intention. If it does, it does, but it's not the reason."
Claire also points out that people's "working lives are changing" and added, "We're getting home for work later, we're going in earlier and all the rest of it so it's a good time."
Both Claire and Colette will be flying solo for each of their half hour bulletins because, Colette says, half an hour is 'too short' for two anchors.
"I think it was just a kind of a fad for a while, the double anchor thing, around the world," she added.
Claire adds, "I think as well we've changed the format and the look of our news - there's a lot of standing - it doesn't lend itself to it, but I also think, as Colette was saying, our bulletins are kind of snappy and we're getting through the stories."
Colette quipped, "There'd be nothing for you to do if there was two of you there for a half hour bulletin."
Female representation in news is strong in Ireland but Colette said the fact that both she and Claire are female anchors is "just happenstance" and gender "doesn't come into it".
"I'd be very insulted if anyone thought we got our jobs because of our chromosomes," she says. "I think in here if you asked anyone, either our Director of News Mick McCaffrey, or anyone above him, 'do you pick anchors or journalists based on gender?' they'd be horrified. It doesn't come into it."
Claire pointed to strong female representation across the board in Ireland and the UK from the BBC to ITV and says "it's great that you switch on and you see female anchors to the fore".
Colette added that it sets a good example for young girls to see that being a journalist or a news anchor is possible.
"When we were growing up I guess there weren't that many female news anchors," she said. "There wasn't that whole narrative there is now with young girls where they can do anything, they can be anyone, and you can't be what you can't see so I guess it's nice for little girls to look at the television and say, 'oh, I can be a news anchor', 'oh I can be a president', 'oh I can be a senior politician', so that can only be a positive thing."
TV3 has now re-branded to Virgin Media One while 3e is Virgin Media Two and be3 is Virgin Media Three.