Broadcast body chief selection under fire


MINISTER FOR Communications Eamon Ryan’s choice to head up the new Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has come under fire from commercial broadcasters.

The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) says the appointment of former RTÉ director general Bob Collins as BAI chairman has caused concern among its members in commercial radio. The authority will have wide-ranging powers to regulate both commercial and State broadcasting.

Willie O’Reilly, chairman of IBI, said he respected Mr Collins as a very able manager and a person of integrity. “However, to appoint an individual who has spent his working life in RTÉ to this crucially important and very sensitive position has caused concern and frustration among independent broadcasters in Ireland.

“Whether real or not, there is a perception that Mr Collins’s loyalties will naturally be to RTÉ. This may be entirely unfair but even the perception that it might be the case is unhelpful.”

Fine Gael’s communications spokesman Simon Coveney has also criticised the appointment, saying it was a “strange choice” for a body with responsibility for commercial and State broadcasting.

Mr O’Reilly said the IBI would be seeking a meeting with Mr Collins to share their concerns.

Last night, the Minister stoutly defended his appointment: “This is a serious job and after long and hard consideration I appointed the person I believe is the very best for the job.” Mr Ryan said he had the utmost confidence in Mr Collins to discharge his duties “without fear or favour”.