Cathal Goan appointed RTE director general


RTÉ, with the approval of the Government, has appointed former producer Mr Cathal Goan (49) as the new director general of the station.

Mr Goan, who will take up his position in October, will succeed Mr Bob Collins, who is retiring several months early to pursue other interests.

Mr Goan, a native of Belfast, was regarded as a front-runner for the position from the outset, with the chief financial officer, Mr Conor Hayes, regarded by most staff as his closest rival.

Mr Goan is currently director of television, and he will continue in that role while also operating as director general designate.

A final shortlist of two candidates was presented to the RTÉ Authority recently, and Mr Goan was chosen. His appointment is likely to prove popular with most staff who tend to favour candidates with programming experience.

The position, which comes with an salary of €158,000, is one of the most coveted in Irish broadcasting. There was widespread interest in the position within the broadcasting community.

Several internal candidates are believed to have applied. While the salary is high by Irish standards, it is small in comparison with those in Britain and this would have put off some high-profile candidates from the UK from applying.

Mr Goan's appointment was announced last night by the station's chairman Mr Paddy Wright, a former director of Smurfit plc. It was announced after approval was given by the Minister for Communications and Natural Resources, Mr Dermot Ahern.

Mr Wright paid tribute to Mr Goan. "Cathal's unique skill set, experience and commitment to public service broadcasting will be of enormous benefit to RTÉ - an organisation in transition - as he becomes director general."

He added: "Cathal was involved in the development of the strategic plan 2002-2005, which is now being implemented, and he is fully aware of the challenges that are being addressed to realise RTÉ's full potential."

Mr Goan declined to conduct media interviews last night, but his appointment comes at a difficult time for the station, with the financial problems of 2002 carrying into 2003.

While the station is hoping to produce a modest surplus for the year, pressure on advertising and sponsorship income could scupper this.

Mr Goan has previously managed a broadcasting organisation in the shape of TG4. He was appointed ceannasaí of the station in August 1994, and oversaw its establishment. He stayed in the role for several years before moving back to RTÉ's Donnybrook headquarters.

His appointment came on a day when the station announced it would deliver 15 per cent more drama as part of the licence fee increase it was awarded last Christmas.

The station said it had commissioned a wide range of "exciting new indigenous Irish drama, for all ages" to be produced this year and broadcast in 2003 and 2004 on RTÉ One and Network 2.