herald

Wednesday 29 March 2017

I didn't quit over €50k pay cut insists Dunphy as he blasts mogul O'Brien

OUTSPOKEN broadcaster Eamon Dunphy has denied he is leaving Newstalk because of a €50,000 pay cut.

The soccer pundit went out with a bang as he presented his last Sunday show on the radio station, accusing Newstalk's owner Denis O'Brien of "hating journalism".

Reports had suggested Mr Dunphy's departure was connected with his €100,000 salary being sliced in half.

Mr Dunphy (66) insisted his life at the station had been made "impossible" and he was quitting not just for himself but for his "producer and other young journalists in this station. He added: "Denis O'Brien hates journalism, he despises it, you can check the record all over the place."

Mr Dunphy made the comments on his final show on Newstalk, which was broadcast yesterday.

In subsequent reported comments, the Ranelagh resident said the station had become a "slum" and claimed staff were treated "disgracefully".

He added Mr O'Brien, whose Communicorp group owns Newstalk, "doesn't understand" what journalists are for, adding the pay cut had "nothing to do with" his leaving.

His departure was the second high-profile exit from a Communicorp-owned station following the decision to axe veteran journalist Sam Smyth's Sunday current affairs show on Today FM.



Action

Today FM has rejected claims the move to replace Mr Smyth with PR consultant Anton Savage is linked to a court action taken by Mr O'Brien.

It said the decision was due to falling listenership. In addition, Willie O'Reilly, the Today FM's chief executive, is leaving the station to join RTE.

Recent JNLR figures show that the number of listeners to Sam Smyth on Sunday has fallen from 106,000 to 92,000 over the past year.

Mr O'Brien -- a shareholder in Independent News & Media, which publishes the Herald -- is pursuing a legal action against Mr Smyth over comments he made on the TV3 show Tonight With Vincent Browne and in a newspaper article. In a letter to Mr Smyth, details of which were published in the media, Mr O'Reilly said he was disappointed that Mr Smyth continued to "portray my decision as being the result of your ongoing disagreement with Denis O'Brien, our owner, when I have reiterated to you on numerous occasions that this has nothing to do with it".

No comment was received from Communicorp or Newstalk at the time of writing.

In a statement last week, RTE announced that Mr O'Reilly would be joining the national broadcaster and would report to the director general Noel Curran.

RTE said Mr O'Reilly would have "overall responsibility for the planning and development of commercial strategy". He takes up the new post on January 1.

comurphy@herald.ie

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