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'Frontline' should be axed

Madam -- In light of recent controversies in RTE relating to Prime Time Investigates and The Frontline, it seems appropriate that RTE should review its current affairs programming.

Questions and Answers provided an invaluable service each week to viewers. It was axed as John Bowman wished to research his history of RTE and Pat Kenny wished to move on from The Late Late Show. The Frontline replaced Questions and Answers, leaving RTE without a flagship, interactive, panel-based, question-answer format programme. It is most unusual for a national broadcaster not to broadcast a programme of this manner.

Pat Kenny's vanity project, The Frontline, has lost much credibility in its short run. Indeed, when contrasted with BBC's Question Time, where a range of issues are discussed and audience members pose questions to an authoritative panel, it is clear that The Frontline lacks this.

Questions and Answers allowed a range of issues to be discussed and was immaculately moderated by John Bowman. It was balanced, controlled, informative and revealing. As John Bowman said on the last edition, "All human life was here."

The Frontline, by contrast, is reactionary, poorly organised and dominated by the ego of its host. The patronising, dumbed-down question he poses to the viewers before the credits is inane and insulting. The Twittergate issue was a shocking error in judgement, leaving the programme irreparably damaged.

RTE Radio 1 has also axed Saturday View, another excellent panel-based interactive programme. One suspects it was to make way for the ego of another host. Enter Saturday with Charlie Bird.

The solution seems clear. Axe The Frontline and replace it with a current affairs programme of substance and authority. The Irish viewing public deserve no less than this.

JR Hynes,

Dublin

Sunday Independent