Dunphy launches attack on O'Brien

 

Broadcaster Eamon Dunphy today accused businessman Denis O'Brien of "hating journalism" during his show on Newstalk, a radio station owned by the entrepreneur's Communicorp group.

Dunphy, who announced he was quitting his job at the station this weekend, claimed that Newstalk staff were being "intimidated and blackguarded".

His comments come after he told the Irish Daily Star yesterday that he was leaving Newstalk due to “management interference".

Mr Dunphy said the station was a "very inhospitable atmosphere for journalists to work in". He also alleged that journalists had been encouraged to “put a positive spin on the news agenda".

The broadcaster's decision to leave Newstalk is also reportedly linked to Sam Smyth’s departure from Today FM, which is also owned by Communicorp.

Today FM has rejected claims that the decision to drop Smyth is linked to a court action taken against the journalist by Mr O’Brien.

The radio station announced recently that Smyth, who has been a presenter at Today FM and its predecessor Radio Ireland for 14 years, is to be replaced by Anton Savage. Today FM chief executive Willie O'Reilly said the decision to drop Smyth was due to declining listenership figures.

Recent JNLR figures show that the number of listeners to Sam Smyth on Sunday has fallen from 106,000 to 92,000 over the past year.

Mr O’Brien is pursuing legal action against the journalist over comments he made on the TV3 show Tonight with Vincent Browne, and in an article in the Irish Independent.

The National Union of Journalists criticised the decision to remove Smyth from Today FM, saying it raised questions about the editorial independence of the station.

A number of senators also raised the issue of Smyth's removal during a debate in the Seanad earlier this month.

Mr O’Brien’s Communicorp owns a number of other radio stations in Ireland, including Dublin’s 98, and Spin 1038.

He is also a shareholder in Independent News Media, which publishes the Irish Independent and the Sunday Independent.

The businessman has accused the Sunday Independent of defaming him in two recent articles, one of which reported on the decision by Today FM to remove Smyth's show from its schedule.