Tuesday 20 August 2019

RTE's Kevin Bakhurst tipped as front-runner for biggest gig in Irish broadcasting

RTÉ’S deputy director-general Kevin Bakhurst. Photo: Tony Gavin
RTÉ’S deputy director-general Kevin Bakhurst. Photo: Tony Gavin
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

It is the biggest gig in Irish broadcasting and Managing Director of RTÉ News & Current Affairs and Deputy DG Kevin Bakhurst says he is seriously considering going for the role of Director General of RTE.

Bakhurst, who has acted as both Deputy Director General and Acting Director General, has been tipped as the front-runner to succeed out going DG Noel Curran.

After five years at the helm, Curran will step down in 2016 following RTE’s centenary celebrations.

“I am thinking about [going for it]. Obviously it is a big job,” Bakhurst told the Irish Independent.

“I have stood in for him [Noel Curran] before so I know what it entails," Bakhurst said. "But I love my current job. So I am giving it a good think.”

The former controller of the BBC News Channel joined RTE in 2012 and said the RTE Board are aware he is considering going for the role.

"Obviously, a lot of people are talking about it around the place and it is a big commitment and a great job. But I have said the same think to them [RTE] - that I am thinking about it."

The Englishman added that he “loves” living in Ireland and recently started taking Irish language classes within RTE. No doubt a cupla focal could come in handy if he ever becomes DG.

Managing director of RTÉ Television Glen Killane is considered to be another likely candidate for the role. Unlike Bakhurst, Killane has been working for RTE for almost all of his adult life.

He began his career within RTE working in the sports department. He became Head of Sport in RTÉ Television in 2004 before becoming Managing Director in 2010. He is regarded as popular with the station's staff.

Group Commercial Director Willie O’Reilly, who worked as producer on 2FM’s wildly successful Gerry Ryan Radio Show and acted as former chief executive of Today FM, could also be in the running.

MD of RTE Radio Jim Jennings who has been working with the national broadcaster for thirty years, and MD of RTE Digital Muirne Laffan are other names considered to be in the mix.

The RTE Board of Directors will have to consider possible candidates both within and outside the national broadcaster.

Outside of RTE, it has been suggested that TV3's David McRedmond could be a potential.

McRedmond has been highly critical of RTE management in the past but with Liberty buying TV3 perhaps it could be time for a change of scene, and perhaps RTE would benefit from an outside perspective.

UTV Ireland's Head of Channel Mary Curtis could also apply for the role. Having worked as Director of Digital Switchover in RTE, Curtis has an understanding of RTE management. However, she might have some difficulties in explaining how UTV Ireland have racked up predicted losses of 18 million within its first year. 

Noel Curran said he would have “no input” into the RTE boards selection process. “I am not involved in that – thank God!”

"I have loved my time there. it has been a fantastic five years, it has been tough but very rewarding, now I also want to put my energies into something else."

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