Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: In its pursuit of a younger market, BBC has made a real howler with decision to axe Sean Coyle from the airwaves

Sean Coyle on air with comedian Roy Walker
Sean Coyle on air with comedian Roy Walker

Editor's Viewpoint

In the challenging world of broadcasting and media, people come and go and there is never guaranteed security for even the biggest figures.

However there is widespread shock at the BBC's decision not to renew the contract for the Sean Coyle Show.

He is clearly devastated by this, and well he should be after some 35 years faithful service to BBC Radio Foyle and BBC Radio Ulster.

This included a difficult period when he carried the show during the illness of his co-star Gerry Anderson, and then continued to host the programme after Gerry's death.

Christine Anderson, his widow, spoke for many people when she said that the news was heart-breaking. She rightly criticised the BBC for the insensitivity of giving the bad news to Sean on the fifth anniversary of her husband's death.

Sean had a loyal following, many of whom - but not all - were in the older age group. It is ironic that the BBC has withdrawn this programme at a time when it is asking people over 75 to pay their TV and radio licence, with only a small minority of exceptions.

The BBC is always aware of attracting young people but young people grow older, and it is a false economy to deprive older people of one of the programmes they enjoy.

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Sean was a friend to many listeners, and his was the third most popular radio programme on the local network. The BBC has a reputation for being hard-nosed in letting people go, and many people feel that in this case, the senior managers are throwing out the baby with the bath water. Peter Johnston, the director of BBC Northern Ireland has said in management-speak language that "decisions around changing our radio schedules are always difficult and never taken lightly".

He also said that Sean "is a brilliant broadcaster". If he is that brilliant, why is his show being axed? Listeners have their rights, too.

Many people are asking the BBC to reconsider their decision and to listen to their listeners. Surely there is a way to give Sean his programme back, and deservedly so.

Belfast Telegraph


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