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Newstalk boss hits back at Dunphy over 'false' claims

THE war of words between Eamon Dunphy and Newstalk has raged on with the radio's chief executive accusing him of making "false and malicious" accusations against the station.

Mr Dunphy, in his last Sunday morning programme on Newstalk, described the station as a "slum" and alleged that its producers and reporters were being "intimidated and blackguarded."

However, Newstalk chief executive Frank Cronin said the outspoken media personality had made a number of "serious and libellous allegations" about the station after he quit.



gloom

Mr Dunphy had said he stood down because the radio station's owner, Denis O'Brien, "hates journalism."

He also said Newstalk had become a "slum" and staff were treated "disgracefully."

However, Mr Cronin said the allegations were false and malicious and "were made as a direct result of a request to Mr Dunphy to take a reduction in his fees".

Mr Dunphy's annual fee for his two-hour programme was being slashed from €100,000 to €60,000 as part of a series of cost cutting measures.

Mr Cronin said the fee was "inordinately high" for two hours of broadcasting a week.

He also said Eamon Dunphy's listenership figures were "relatively poor," having fallen from 62,000 to 58,000 in the most recent Joint National Listenership Research survey.

Mr Cronin also accused Mr Dunphy of behaving similarly when he made previous controversial departures from Today FM, RTE and Independent News and Media.

"To suggest that journalists in the station are 'intimidated and blackguarded' is ridiculous and absurd. I have received many calls from members of staff who are offended, upset and outraged by these false allegations," Mr Cronin said.

"His behaviour and libelling of a number of people on Sunday was a deliberate and reckless dereliction of his duty as a presenter."

Mr Cronin accepted there was some "management interference" but rejected accusations that Mr Dunphy had been ordered to put a positive spin on everything "to suit a businessman's view of it".

"Newstalk confirmed quite rightly that it had requested that its shows did not overwhelmingly focus on the negative and on the doom and gloom that is pervading Irish society.

"We felt that Irish media was focusing too much on the negative and that this was contributing to the overall feeling of desolation and despair."



unemployed

In response, Mr Dunphy said last night he would not indulge in the "happy clappy stuff" when there was so much wrong with the economy, with 50,000 people leaving the country and 460,000 unemployed.

He reiterated that his decision to leave was not motivated by a cut in his fee. "I did this as a gesture of solidarity with the staff in there. Morale is at rock bottom," he said.

He called on Newstalk to publish its wage scales and urged the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to investigate the terms and conditions of staff in the commercial sector.

In response to Mr Cronin's contention that his listenership figures were poor, he said the figures were up by 8,000 on last year and it was the only Newstalk programme in the top five radio podcasts in Ireland.

mlavery@herald.ie


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