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UTV Ireland axe Pat Kenny chat show

Niamh Horan

Published 06/09/2015

UTV Ireland has decided not to go ahead with a second series of In The Round this autumn.
UTV Ireland has decided not to go ahead with a second series of In The Round this autumn.

Pat Kenny's chat show has been axed by UTV.

The news comes after only one season of the series, In The Round, launched with considerable fanfare last April.

This weekend, a spokesperson for UTV confirmed the decision to the Sunday Independent.

"UTV Ireland has decided not to go ahead with a second series of In The Round this autumn.

"We are delighted to have worked with Coco Television and we would like to thank them for their hard work and commitment to UTV Ireland this year. We look forward to engaging with them in the future on new projects. We are currently discussing future projects with Pat Kenny."

Although a well-placed source at the independent station said bosses remain "very happy" with their choice of Kenny as the linchpin of the channel, they have decided that a change of plan is urgently needed to attract viewers.

Kenny's team will now build a format around the presenter's ultimate strengths: "It is back to the drawing board after the chat show didn't work out as well as hoped," said the source.

"Pat has always been very strong on news and current affairs and time and time again he has led the news agenda with hard-hitting political interviews. He is excellent in that role so that is where the focus will turn to now."

They added: "The team will work hard to develop a quality programme that is built around the upcoming general election, so that it will make the most of the news stories stemming from the campaign and other issues on the national agenda."

The former RTE star's entertainment chat show was launched with a debut episode featuring guest GAA boss Mickey Harte, which attracted almost 150,000 viewers.

However, by the second episode, an in-depth interview with astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield, only an average of 65,600 or just 4.23pc of the national audience, tuned in.

The show was filmed in front of a live studio audience in the Round Room of Dublin's Mansion House.

This weekend, Kenny was spotted among the revellers enjoying the party vibe at the Electric Picnic music festival in Stradbally, Co Laois. If he was disappointed with the decision, he didn't let it show.

He remains one of the country's top broadcasters and his much-hyped move from RTE to Newstalk is paying off handsomely.

His media firm recorded a significant jump in profits last year.

New figures lodged with the Companies Office show that Pat Kenny Media Services Ltd recorded an increase of almost €400,000 in accumulated profits in 2014.

Accounts show profits jumped from €458,059 to €843,767 in the 12 months to the end of June 2014.

This compares with a more modest bottom line at the firm of €149,001 in 2013, €140,396 in 2012, €147,156 in 2011 and €128,821 in 2010.

At the time of his move, Mr Kenny stressed that money was not the overriding factor in leaving RTE. However, he said that he was "completely gobsmacked" by Newstalk's generous offer.

Kenny's salary at Newstalk is not known. However, his pay at RTE was a matter of public record and reached a peak in 2008, when he was paid €950,976, before having his salary reduced to €729,604 in 2009 as part of an overall RTE cost-cutting drive.

It was down to €630,000 in 2010 and 2011 - a 34pc decrease overall.

JNLR figures show that Kenny's radio audience totals 142,000. He is on track to reach a target of 150,000 listeners.

A source told the Sunday Independent: "This will be Pat's big year."

Source: Sunday Independent

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