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Sunday 26 January 2020

Goan to step down as RTE chief

National broadcaster begins search for new director general

Breda Heffernan

RTE is to commence the search for a new director general within weeks after Cathal Goan unexpectedly announced he is standing down at the end of his seven-year term.

The 56-year-old was considered a "lifer" at the national broadcaster having started his career there over three decades ago.

The front-runners are tipped to be RTE's chief financial officer, Conor Hayes, who lost out to Mr Goan for the position back in 2003, and Ed Mulhall, an RTE veteran and managing director of news. Clare Duignan, current head of radio, is another likely candidate.

It is also thought that Noel Curran, the former managing director of television who left the broadcaster earlier this year, could yet make a return to Montrose.

The job comes with a basic salary of around €300,000 and internal and external candidates will be interviewed.

In a statement released yesterday, the board of RTE said it would begin advertising for the position in the coming weeks and that Mr Goan had agreed to stay on until a successor was found.

The new head will take over at a crucial time for the broadcaster as it embarks on an ambitious redevelopment of its Donnybrook campus, which will include the construction of a €350m high-definition digital TV and radio studio.

Communications Minister Eamon Ryan described Mr Goan as a "true gentleman and a scholar".

"As a man of real creativity, who loves the Irish language, Cathal has made a major contribution to both RTE and TG4.

"He is a brilliant mind and has made a genuine contribution to the arts in Ireland," he added.

Speaking after yesterday's board meeting, chairman Tom Savage said that Mr Goan's decision had been accepted with regret.

He said Mr Goan had presided over a period of "enormous change" at RTE, including leading its financial restructuring shortly after taking office and investing in digital and online technologies. More recently Mr Goan has headed a cost-cutting programme that slashed the broadcaster's budget shortfall from €68m to around €17m.

"Cathal remains passionate about and has a unique understanding of the special role that RTE has in Irish cultural life," said Mr Savage.

"He has left an indelible mark not just on RTE, but on Irish public service broadcasting as a whole."

A native of Belfast and a graduate of UCD, Mr Goan joined RTE in 1979 and initially worked as a radio producer before moving to television in 1988. In 1990, he was appointed editor of Irish language programming and, four years later, moved to Teilifis na Gaeilge where he oversaw the establishment of the channel.

He was appointed director of television at RTE in 2000 and became a member of the executive board before rising to the top job of director general in 2003.

Irish Independent

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