'Viewing figures are not what makes UTV,' says anchor Alison Comyn
UTV Ireland anchor Alison Comyn has defended the station against its critics, saying "viewing figures aren't what makes us".
The Drogheda native was speaking as a spokesperson for UTV Ireland said that its 10 o'clock nightly news bulletin was attracting an average of 50,000 viewers a night, while its earlier programme was attracting half that.
Asked how she felt about bad press surrounding audience figures, Ms Comyn said: "The fact is that there has been great press as well. I have had amazing press. Personally I have never had any bad press, thankfully. Every now and again people throw in figures, but viewing figures are not what makes us."
She went on: "We are producing some absolutely amazing news programmes - personally. The rest of the channel is growing and growing and we are hoping we will be able to build on that."
Speaking at the Irish Film and Television Awards on Thursday night, where UTV was nominated in the news category alongside RTE, TV3 and the BBC, Ms Comyn said: "We are up there with TV3 and RTE and BBC in the same category. We were in very, very distinguished company, so we're just delighted . . . We were new kids on the block. . . So even to get a nod from the IFTAs is amazing. I certainly hope [we'll win it in the next few years].
"We are incredibly proud of our viewing figures. If you look at Monday night - where I had 80,000 or 90,000 viewers - they are seriously good figures for a programme that is still quite fledgling."
Speaking about the News: Ireland Live programme hitting the lowest figures in the six months since its launch last June when it pulled in just 4,700 viewers, Alison said: "That was one day. I feel frustrated that one day is the headline rather than 50, 60 or 80,000. . . We just get on and do what we do.
"We are a nation where it takes a while to get to know something. If anyone thought we were going to come in to a market and take all the viewers from TV3 and 90pc from RTE, that was never going to happen. We are our own brand. We are creating our own identity. We are gaining a really, really big audience and I am very happy about that."
Speaking about the departure of Newstalk broadcaster and her co-anchor Chris Donoghue from the UTV Ireland news team, she said: "I suppose it is disappointing. Chris made up his own mind about what he is going to do. He has been working ridiculously long hours and maybe that is not something you can sustain. I hope we will do more specials together."