Tuesday 10 December 2019

Shock for TV3 as producers quit Vincent Browne programme

Broadcaster and columnist Vincent Browne
Broadcaster and columnist Vincent Browne
Betty Purcell says in her memoir that she was recruited to RTE straight out of UCD, where she was involved in left-wing politics

Sam Griffin

TWO producers of the 'Tonight with Vincent Browne' programme have dramatically quit just months after joining the show.

Betty Purcell, a former RTE producer, and Sean MacCarthaigh, who joined from the 'Irish Examiner', confirmed to the Irish Independent last night that they decided to resign from the programme last week.

Ms Purcell had been working on the show for only around three months, while Mr MacCarthaigh's time on board TV3's flagship current affairs programme was even shorter.

They are the latest members of the production team to part ways with the programme after another member quit in recent months.

When asked for comment last night Vincent Browne said: "That is a matter for the TV3 press office." He declined to comment further.

Both Ms Purcell and Mr Mac Carthaigh said they didn't wish to explain the reasons for the shock departures.

"It's probably better for me not to go into the reasons why I've left," Ms Purcell said last night. "It's been a really interesting time to work on the 'Tonight' programme because of the crisis in the Department of Justice over the Alan Shatter controversies."

Sean MacCarthaigh said there were a number of issues he wished to address before making any comment on his departure.

The departures are the latest blow for TV3 which earlier this month lost five senior executives to new rival UTV, which has announced it will begin broadcasting in Ireland next year.

TV3 did not respond to queries from the Irish Independent last night.

However, it is understood there have been a number of issues among the production staff of the 'Tonight with Vincent Browne' programme and the show's presenter, which came to a head last week.

A number of news editors at the station are also understood to be deeply unhappy with management's decision to cut the 11pm news programme which means the Vincent Browne programme now runs a few minutes longer.

Ms Purcell, a former RTE stalwart with over 33 years' experience in television news and current affairs, played a key role in developing the programme's 'live debate' shows in the station's new studio.

Mr MacCarthaigh was a news editor with the 'Irish Examiner' before joining TV3 only two months ago.

A source within the commercial broadcaster last night said morale was "very low at the moment" after TV3 lost the Irish rights to 'Coronation Street' and 'Emmerdale' to UTV.

Irish Independent

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