BBC veteran appointed to top news job at RTÉ
RTÉ HAS appointed Kevin Bakhurst, the controller of the BBC News Channel, as managing director of news and current affairs and a member of the RTÉ executive board.
Mr Bakhurst (46), who has also served as deputy head of BBC Newsroom since 2010, replaces Ed Mulhall, who retired from the broadcaster last April in the wake of the controversial libel of Fr Kevin Reynolds by the A Mission to Prey programme.
Mr Bakhurst, who joined the BBC in 1989, is from Barnet in north London. He will take up his position in early September.
He will lead the reorganisation of RTÉ’s news and current affairs department, including the development of the RTÉ News Now service and the launch of a new series of investigative television documentaries to replace the axed Prime Time Investigates.
“This is one of the very few jobs that I would have considered leaving BBC News to do,” Mr Bakhurst said in a statement yesterday.
“It is an amazing opportunity to lead such a formidable team at RTÉ News and Current Affairs who rightly have a national and worldwide reputation for their journalism.”
The position vacated by Mr Mulhall has been occupied on an acting basis in recent months by Cillian de Paor, the managing editor of television news.
RTÉ is also expected shortly to announce the appointment of a new managing editor of television current affairs, a position advertised alongside the job taken up by Mr Bakhurst. This individual will report to Mr Bakhurst.
Mr Bakhurst and the incoming managing editor of television current affairs will then appoint an editor of Prime Time, an editor of Frontline and an editor of the new investigations unit.
The securing of such a senior figure from the BBC is a coup for the Irish broadcaster.
RTÉ director general Noel Curran said the job had “attracted an exceptionally strong field of national and international candidates”, adding that Mr Bakhurst had “huge and varied experience, a proven track record and key leadership skills”, as well as “a keen sense of how news delivery is changing across all media”.
The head of BBC Newsroom Mary Hockaday said her deputy had been “a very significant figure in BBC news for many years”. Mr Bakhurst had taken the BBC news channel “from level pegging to nearly double Sky’s audience”, she said in a letter to BBC staff.
One colleague, BBC foreign correspondent Fergal Keane, said: “He is a very strong personality, with a lot of integrity and the energy to get things done.”