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Pat Kenny unfazed by RTE's 'Frontline' replacement

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Claire Byrne

Claire Byrne

Pat Kenny

Pat Kenny

Photo: Peter Houlihan

RTE presenter Claire Byrne. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins

RTE presenter Claire Byrne. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins

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Claire Byrne

Broadcaster Pat Kenny is unfazed by RTE's latest addition to its news and current affairs schedule, 'Claire Byrne Live'.

The programme, which will air in January 2015, will run in the same slot as Kenny's former flagship show 'The Frontline'.

"I wish Claire the best but obviously none of this would have happened if RTE hadn't killed 'The Frontline' in the first place," Kenny (inset) told the Irish Independent.

"Let them at it. It won't affect my show," he said, referring to his upcoming UTV Ireland series, which will launch in spring of next year.

The new hour-long programme hosted by Byrne (inset right) will feature a live studio audience and according to David Nally, RTE's managing editor of current affairs, "will draw on the best of previous audience programmes" including 'Questions and Answers', 'The Frontline' and 'Prime Time'.

"Obviously, they (RTE) could never admit they got it wrong in axing 'The Frontline'," Kenny continued.

"So they are going to say it ('Claire Byrne Live') is a hybrid of all things that went before it."

The programme will replace the Monday night edition of 'Prime Time', which has battled with sliding ratings since its inception.

Kenny admits the 10:30pm slot can be challenging for fledgling programmes.

"You have Vincent Browne starting at 11pm on TV3, UK programmes like 'Newsnight', UTV Ireland will have their news programme at 10pm. It's a tough slot. In a way they're killing it before it starts."

Kenny will host an audience-based chat show on UTV Ireland next year, the format of which is in development. The series will be produced "out of house" by an Irish independent production company.

Several film and TV companies were approached by the station last week to submit suggested formats.

According to UTV Ireland, head of channel Mary Curtis will discuss the potential ideas with the respective companies in the coming weeks. Ms Curtis has said in the past the show will play to Kenny's presenting strengths.

"He is very good with a live audience," she said.

"He is very good with talent, he has an encyclopaedic knowledge and he understands and can handle complex and light issues."

While his show won't air till early spring, Kenny will make an on-screen appearance on the station's first day of broadcast on January 1. "I will be visible on the first day, doing what is undecided. My show won't be on till spring. It's a work in progress," he said.

Meanwhile, 'The Late Late Show' host Ryan Tubridy and 2fm's Lottie Ryan were on hand yesterday to launch the Give a Gift appeal for Saint Vincent De Paul.

The campaign collects gifts each year to distribute to families in need.

Irish Independent