Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Sports presenter Denise Watson is latest to join the female exodus out of BBC NI

Denise Watson is leaving the BBC
Denise Watson is leaving the BBC
Sarah Travers
Sarah Travers

Sports presenter Denise Watson has quit the BBC after 17 years, it has been confirmed.

Ms Watson is the latest well-known female face to disappear from BBC Northern Ireland screens over the past 12 months.

It is understood Ms Watson, who began her career at the corporation in 1996, will officially leave in August.

The mother-of-two was part of the Irish League Final Score team and worked on the BBC's flagship GAA programme The Championship.

Ms Watson broke the news via her Twitter account on Thursday evening.

She said: "To everyone that has asked. Yes. I have left BBC Sport NI after 17 years. Time for a fresh challenge!" A spokeswoman for the BBC would only confirm the broadcaster had left the corporation.

"Denise Watson has left the BBC. We do not comment on the specifics of individual cases."

After announcing her departure she received messages via social media wishing her the 'best for the future'.

She replied: "I'm confident in my ability and relishing a fresh challenge! Here's to the future!"

She added that "exciting times" were ahead.

One industry insider had previously said that while it was understandable that the BBC was under financial pressure as a result of the licence fee freeze, it was "disturbing" that the company was "sitting back and watching presenters in their prime" walk away.

When asked to comment on the number of females leaving the BBC in a statement, a spokeswoman said: "A large number of staff have left the BBC over the recent period.

"Almost all of these have been on the basis of voluntary redundancy.

"We understand that post closures can be difficult and work hard to ensure that they are managed in a fair and equitable way."

Ms Watson is the second long-serving female employee to announce they are leaving the BBC this week.

Angelina Fusco, editor of television news at BBC Northern Ireland, will leave at the end of June.

This month it also emerged that journalist Natasha Sayee was leaving the corporation for a new position in an international private sector company.

Earlier this year weather forecaster Jackie McCann and newsreader Sarah Travers quit their jobs, claiming they wanted to spend more time at home.

In 2012 Yvette Shapiro and Julia Paul were among the household names who left as part of the BBC's ongoing voluntary redundancy programme. In 2009 health correspondent Dot Kirby, who had been in the role since 1994, also left.

And in March 2006 popular newsreader Rose Neill left after working for the company for 24 years. She had been the face of BBC NI's flagship programme, Newsline, until she was dropped from the prime post in 2002.

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