MOST NEWSPAPERS could not resist listing the contenders to replace Ryan Tubridy in his radio morning slot and most were relatively objective in their assessments.
Of the weekend’s Sunday Independent, Irish Independent, Business Post and Sunday Times, the last three all placed Oliver Callan at the top of the list, if only because he is in situ at Montrose, with Brendan Courtney figuring highly for probably the same reason. After that, various female presenters – Rachel English and Sarah McInerney most prominently – are mentioned favourably in coverage that is predominantly objective. Brendan O’Connor is also mentioned in the ST and in two titles, the Indo and Sindo, owned by his employer, Mediahuis.
But the Sindo lapsed into traditional mode with an article that lionised their man O’Connor and put him ahead of Callan, Ray D’Arcy and McInerney. Does this pitch explain why, in his weekly front-page Sindo ruminations on the big issues, O’Connor managed to avoid devoting one single column to Tubridy or the RTÉ controversy in the nine editions of his newspaper since the crisis at the national broadcaster broke? This jarred with his commentary on his RTÉ Sunday morning radio show in the second week of the Tubridy controversy, in which he stoutly defended what he described as RTÉ management’s “openness and transparency” in the matter (see The Phoenix 14/7/23).
The Indo and the ST both mentioned Anton Savage among the contenders. Savage roves around Newstalk often as a broadcast replacement and he has had a lot to say about Tubridy, RTÉ’s finances and various public broadcasting issues. So, too, has his mum, Terry Prone, a director and shareholder in The Communications Clinic (CC) along with Anton.
An issue that just might pose a dilemma for Savage – if he becomes a contender to succeed Tubs – is one of transparency, specifically the proposal for broadcasters to declare financial and other interests. There was a time when CC boasted that its clients could enjoy total confidentiality if they so wished. At the same time, the media training and PR company had clients in the major political parties and the corporate boardrooms of big business, among other serious players.
Goldhawk has asked Savage several times if the list of clients on CC’s website was exhaustive or if he had ever declared an interest in a client connected to a story he was covering but the normally voluble broadcaster remained silent on the issue. Last week we asked Bauer Media, owners of radio stations and rivals to RTÉ, if it intends to follow Kevin Bakhurst’s intention to introduce a register of interests for its broadcasters. Further radio silence followed.