Saturday 18 November 2017

Hook to keep his radio job with Newstalk despite uproar over rape comments

Station won't say if weekend move will affect his salary

George Hook. Photo: Mark Condren
George Hook. Photo: Mark Condren

Melanie Finn and Laura Larkin

George Hook will keep his job with Newstalk, despite the furore over his controversial comments about rape.

The station has confirmed that he has been given a new weekend slot which will start in three months' time after he "stepped down" from his 'High Noon' show.

However, Newstalk has declined to say whether the 75-year-old moving from a weekday, prime-time slot to a weekend, morning show in December will affect the presenter's salary.

The station was also keeping tight-lipped on whether he would be paid for the three months he will be off-air and if any disciplinary action has been taken as a result of his inflammatory remarks.

An "internal process" was conducted by station bosses in the wake of the scandal but the results of it have not been made public.

"He's been taken off a prime-time show and moved onto a weekend show and has been taken off-air for three months. It's a massive step down for him," said an insider.

"There's a lot of negotiations still going on internally.

"They have yet to decide who's going to replace him on the lunchtime slot and also which shows to change around for his new weekend show, which will be in the morning."

In a statement, Newstalk said that it had "concluded the process" which reviewed the circumstances that led to Hook's comments on rape.

"He will return to the station in December 2017 when he will take on a new weekend show.

Newstalk will shortly be announcing a replacement for the lunchtime show," it read.

"Newstalk will not be making any further comment on this issue."

Staff working at the station have also been advised not to talk to the media about the issue as the broadcaster tries to move on from the controversy.

Reaction

There has been a mixed reaction to the news Hook will remain on as a broadcaster with the station with some listeners branding it a "pathetic move".

Singer Mary Coughlan, who walked off air during an interview with Newstalk host Ivan Yates in protest at the comments made by Hook, was totally against the decision.

"I'm horrified and disgusted. All of my faith in Newstalk has really gone out the window. They seemed to be coming to their senses last week and heeding what the public wanted," she said.

Ms Coughlan said she will never appear on a Newstalk show again, despite her affinity with many of its other hosts at the station.

"There is no place for people like George Hook on the airwaves," she said.

The Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) has now lodged a formal complaint with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland in relation to Hook's comments.

Its executive director Clíona Saidléar questioned whether he would come back as the "same old George" when he returns to the airwaves.

Irish Independent

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