RTÉ ready to do battle with Newstalk to retain listeners

Most of Pat Kenny’s listeners will stick with RTÉ Radio 1 and not switch over to Newstalk to hear his new morning show, the state broadcaster has insisted.

According to Core Media, Kenny’s transfer could be worth as much as €500,000 to Newstalk.

On Saturday, RTÉ announced that veteran broadcaster Seán O’Rourke is to take over Kenny’s morning radio slot.

“People are going to characterise it as a war, I suppose — a battle of the heavyweights,” Mr Jennings said during an interview on RTÉ radio yesterday. “It is good for radio broadcasting and good for the listeners.”

And, he said, while a commercial consideration might inform Newstalk’s strategy, RTÉ Radio 1’s approach is different.

Listeners expect the public service broadcaster to have an informed, balanced, impartial schedule throughout the day, and it has always done that, he said.

However, while commercial considerations are not paramount, RTÉ is a dual-funded organisation and needs to sell advertising.

Mr Jennings said RTÉ Radio 1 was ready to do battle with Newstalk and will “fight them every step of the way”.

And when he was asked about the timing of the announcement of Kenny’s replacement, he denied the station had been stung into action by Ryan Tubridy, who warned RTÉ would need to come out fighting.

He said the station had not planned to wait until Aug 29 to announce a replacement, as reported in a number of newspapers.

Meanwhile, TV3’s head of press and publicity, Sharon McHugh, confirmed TV3 and Kenny were open to talks about him joining the network. “TV3 haven’t been speaking to Pat yet. I’m sure there will be discussions had down the line, either with Jeff Ford, our director of content or David McRedmond, chief executive of TV3,” she said.

“I know both sides are open to having discussions. What arises from those chats will really depend on what both parties are interested in doing, if it’s right for TV3 and if it’s right for Pat Kenny.”

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