Tuesday 12 December 2017

TV3 boss Ben Frow says 'brutal' budget cuts forced exit

Ken Sweeney and Laura Butler

BUDGET headaches at TV3 played a part in its director of programmes Ben Frow's decision to leave Irish broadcasting.

And the outgoing TV boss warned that the very survival of the Ballymount broadcaster is in question because of a slump in advertising revenue.

Mr Frow will leave the station at the end of the year after nearly six years at the helm.

In a parting shot, the 51-year-old said: "My job was to make the best programmes for TV3 but it has been very disheartening lately when people came to me and said we just can't afford to make that programme.

"I had enormous freedom at TV3; my only frustration has been that there simply wasn't enough money. It's impossible."

TV3 was forced to cut one of its most high profile shows, 'The Apprentice', this year due to a lack of sponsors.

"The last year for me in TV3 has been brutal. We do not have a licence fee so are completely dependent on advertisers and there simply isn't any money coming in."

But Mr Frow insisted he was not leaving for a better job at another broadcaster -- because he has not yet received any offers.

Despite his concern for TV3's finances, Mr Frow said he achieved more than he had hoped in his time at the station. He moved to Ireland in April 2007 and during his reign has given TV3 more viewers in the Republic of Ireland than BBC One, BBC Two and UTV combined.

He has been hailed for launching homegrown productions, instead of buying in programmes from abroad -- although some of the series have been Irish versions of popular UK shows.

Among them were: 'The Apprentice', 'Come Dine With Me Ireland', 'Tallafornia' and 'Dublin Wives'.

TV3 CEO David McRedmond said: "Ben has not only transformed TV3's programming, he has left a distinctive and brilliant mark on Irish broadcasting."


Veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne was among those who said they were saddened to hear of Mr Frow's departure. In 2010 Mr Frow persuaded RTE's best-known faces to make a two-part award-winning series for rivals TV3 on road safety.

"Ben Frow will certainly be missed in Irish broadcasting. I have the highest respect for Ben. I certainly enjoyed working with him," he said.

However, the most unexpected tribute to Mr Frow came from rival Steve Carson, director of programmes for RTE.

He said: "Ben Frow has played a huge part in increasing Irish production in TV3 over the past five years, which has been good news for Irish viewers. RTE wishes him the best on his return to the UK."

Irish Independent

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