Sunday 19 November 2017

Steve Carson tipped for top RTE job

Miriam’s husband is favourite ‘outsider’ to return to station now MD role is on the table

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Miriam O’Callaghan and husband Steve Carson, who is based in Belfast. Photo: Tony Gavin
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Miriam O’Callaghan and husband Steve Carson, who is based in Belfast. Photo: Tony Gavin
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Miriam O’Callaghan’s husband Steve Carson is tipped to take over as managing director of RTE news and current affairs following the departure of Kevin Bakhurst.

Carson, a noted TV director and producer, left RTE three years ago to take up the role of head of BBC Northern Ireland productions.

RTE’s director general Dee Forbes has been in the post four
RTE’s director general Dee Forbes has been in the post four months

However, now that one of the most sought-after jobs in Irish television has come up — coupled with the fact that his family live in Dublin — it’s likely the BBC boss will be tempted back to RTE.

“The post in Belfast is more of a stepping stone and he’s very ambitious and still a young man,” a source told the Sunday Independent.

“The only question now is, will he move to London or south to Dublin after Belfast? It would be no surprise that he will look to RTE because that’s where he will be close to family.

“He has gone away, earned his stripes and is well placed to take on the role now. Remember, there are two other big jobs on the table — deputy MD of RTE news and current affairs and head of RTE2.

“He was acting managing director of news and current affairs for a time before they put Bakhurst in, so he’s well suited.”

However, a separate source in RTE said the position — which was advertised today — will be “hotly contested”, and it would be no surprise if Montrose bosses opted to give the job to another outsider.

“People from big broadcasters such as the BBC and Sky News now see that an outsider can come in to RTE and be successful within Ireland’s national broadcaster,” the source said.

Asked if Carson might find it difficult to take on a role as head of news and current affairs if his wife runs for the Aras, the source said: “RTE will know whether Miriam will run for the Park or not in good time — there are certain time frames within which people need to make their intentions known to management.

“But the general consensus is that Michael D Higgins is happy in his role and his intention is to stay another term, so I couldn’t see that being a problem if Steve was to come back as MD.”

In recent weeks the notion that RTE is in crisis following the departure of several senior executives has gained traction.

Managing director Glen Killane is moving to Eir, head of RTE2 Bill Malone is joining TV3, and deputy MD of RTE news and current affairs Michael Good retired at the end of June.

A senior source told the Sunday Independent the perception is that it is a reflection of RTE’s top brass being reluctant to work under an outsider as new director general.

“Things are changing. There’s no such thing as different camps or picking a station

for life. That day is gone.”

On Wednesday afternoon, RTE’s new director general Dee Forbes stood beside Bakhurst after he spoke to his team of staff in news and current affairs.

“He told us that he had been looking forward to working with Dee and then this offer came along. Dee also spoke beforehand and said she only had the pleasure of working with Kevin for a short while but that she had been massively impressed by him,” said a newsroom source.

“Everyone was wondering who she was and what she would be like, but the impression I got is that she is very relaxed, funny and outgoing. I thought it was great that she came down and took the time to speak to everyone.

“That’s what people want — reassurance,” added the senior source.

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