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'I don't think the content of what we cover will be affected by the gender of the presenters'

Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates sat down with TheJournal.ie to talk about their new TV3 show.

iy1 Source: Brian McEvoy

IVAN YATES AND MATT Cooper were unveiled yesterday as the new hosts of the show formerly known as Tonight with Vincent Browne – confirming the worst-kept secret in Irish broadcasting.

Their new vehicle – which will be known simply as The Tonight Show – will air on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 19 September from TV3′s new, state-of-the-art studio.

News of their addition to the Ballymount station’s current affairs lineup leaked several weeks ago – but the two men were keen to clear up a few details of their new venture at TV3′s new season launch.

It would be a double-header each night, Yates confirmed, and it will continue to go out between 11pm and midnight. Cooper added that they planned to keep the best aspects of the old ‘Tonight’ but build on its success and “add different things”.

The Twitter Machine will return, fans of the #vinb hashtag can be assured. Cooper promised a “very strong social media aspect”.

TV3 New Season 47 Ivan Yates and Matt Cooper alongside Sarah McInerney (who will present a new politics show on Sundays), news presenters Colette Fitzpatrick and Claire Brock, and Pat Kenny. Source: Brian McEvoy

The gender question 

Yates’ appointment, of course, follows confirmation earlier this month that he is also to return to radio on a full-time basis. The former Fine Gael TD is due to take over the high-profile drivetime slot on Newstalk from next Monday, replacing Chris Donoghue and Sarah McInerney.

That news was met with dismay from some quarters – as, after a promising schedule reboot last autumn, it served as confirmation that the news station was returning to an all-male presenter lineup in its prime-time (7am to 7pm) weekday schedule.

Bernice Harrison of the Irish Times said the current roster of presenters resembled a “backslapping old boys’ schools fundraiser”, while Orla O’Connor of the Irish Women’s Council said it appeared Newstalk was “going backwards” when it came to gender balance.

Asked about that criticism – and about social media criticism of TV3′s all-male late-night lineup, which was already starting to emerge yesterday – Yates said he didn’t see gender as an issue when it came to how he would approach his new show with Cooper.

In relation to Newstalk, he opined that as a broadcaster “on the eve of being 58″ both Chris Donoghue and Sarah McInerney “have much better career prospects than I do with the Irish media”.

“I am in the autumn of whatever media life I have – so the nature of media is it’s fickle.”

The entire production team at TV3 would be female “at every level,” he added.

I don’t see it as a gender issue and I don’t think the content of what we cover will be affected by the gender of the presenters.

Asked about the same issue, Cooper recalled being “shocked” at the under-representation of women and people under 40 when he attended his first editorial meeting at the Irish Independent in 1993, after taking over as business editor.

I remember immediately thinking that this is crazy because this is a newspaper that should be catering for men and for woman and yet is being completely designed and run by men.

When he took over the editor’s chair at the Sunday Tribune later in the same decade, he said, he was keen to shake things up.

“When I had the opportunity to make the decisions myself as editor I made sure there were as many women as possible in strong positions – so when I had the responsibility I did it.

And even inside in The Last Word in Today FM my senior producer now is a woman – the majority of the team are women and there always has been senior producers who are women on the programme.

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mario Mario Rosenstock will join Cooper and Yates each Thursday. Source: Brian McEvoy

‘Not as left-wing as Vincent’

Discussing the new TV3 show, Cooper said he was determined to make sure he and Yates heard from as many people as possible on their panels “because, basically, I’m a journalist, that’s what I do”.

The ‘two-hander’ presenting format had its advantages, the Today FM broadcaster insisted – noting that the two hosts would be bringing “complementary strengths”.

The idea I think is that I come from a more journalistic background – that I’m trying to find things out. Ivan might be bit more freer perhaps with the comments, with the punditry.

Yates, meanwhile, said he reckoned it would be a “great blend”.

Asked how he expected the new-look Tonight would set out its own stall in contrast to Vincent Browne’s tenure, he said he imagined it would be “pacier” and that the new presenting format would allow them to “cover more ground”.

“Vincent is unique – he’s virtually a legend in his own lifetime,” said Yates.

One final point of contrast: “Obviously I’m not as left-wing as Vincent.”

Related: ‘You won’t hear a woman’s voice, and it’s not acceptable’: What are Irish radio stations doing about gender balance? > 

Read: So TV3 confirmed the worst-kept secret in Irish media today – here’s what else is in the schedule >

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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