Forecaster has diction problem, says RTÉ

WEATHER forecaster Joan Blackburn was told her diction was a problem after being dropped from the panel of television broadcasters last summer, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) heard yesterday.

RTÉ executive Isobel Charlton reported Ms Blackburn had done “fine” on the other broadcast criteria laid down by the station but she had a problem with the “clear diction” criterion.

Giving evidence, Ms Blackburn said Ms Charlton brought up an incident where Ms Blackburn had expressed reservations when asked to inform viewers of bulletins by non-meteorologists whom the station hired to present the weather on Network Two. “Personally, I didn’t want to do it,” she said. But she agreed after discussing it with her colleagues.

Ms Blackburn is taking a case of unfair dismissal against the station. A professional meteorologist who presented television forecasts for 13 years, she continues to broadcast weather forecasts on RTÉ Radio.

She has not done a television broadcast since last July, following a review of her performance by an assessment panel at Montrose which included Cathal Goan, Claire Duignan and Ms Charlton.

The tribunal will announce its decision today on whether or not a contract of employment existed between Ms Blackburn and RTÉ. Ms Blackburn, who is a civil servant, is an assistant principal at Met Éireann. Yesterday’s evidence related to the nature of the relationship between Ms Blackburn and RTÉ.

Her colleague Gerard Fleming gave evidence on Ms Blackburn’s behalf while TV weather forecaster Evelyn Cusack attended the hearing.

RTÉ denies Ms Blackburn’s claims and argues that she remained on a panel from which future television forecasters could be drawn.

However Ms Blackburn said she regarded her termination as permanent.

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