herald

Friday 19 October 2018

Breakfast TV is not on the menu at RTE -- news chief

A TOP RTE boss has ruled out breakfast television on cost grounds. The station's Irish rival, TV3, has recently revamped its early morning Ireland AM show.



But RTE News and Current Affairs director Kevin Bakhurst said RTE cannot afford to launch a breakfast TV programme.

"Breakfast television isn't cheap, there's no chance of us doing it now in the current position," he said during a question and answer session at a media conference at Cleraun University Centre in Mount Merrion at the weekend.

The former controller of the BBC news channel, who joined RTE in the wake of the Fr Kevin Reynolds case, confirmed that a new series of investigative programmes was being worked on.

Prime Time Investigates was axed earlier this year following the hiatus that followed the A Mission To Prey libel case.

"There are some investigations already in the pipeline and they'll be back on air," Mr Bakhurst said, adding that the station's staff may receive fresh training in social media and investigations.

When it came to the future shape of RTE, "a lot depends", on commercial revenue trends, Mr Bakhurst said.

"RTE has made a commitment to break even this year. It's no secret and TV3 has said the same, that commercial income is down badly."

He also said that despite the "partial shield" of public funding, RTE had to contend with "an 800lb gorilla" in the shape of BSkyB.

"Sky is sucking money out of the marketplace," he said.

He also said RTE will review the impact that the closure of its London bureau has had on its coverage.

Mr Bakhurst added he would have preferred if experienced news staff who accepted voluntary redundancy or early retirement offers had stayed but "RTE needed the money".

hnews@herald.ie

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