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Newstalk taking legal action over report claiming Pat Kenny will be axed

Kenny’s mid-morning radio slot is not being scrapped in the new year.

Updated 4.05pm 

NEWSTALK IS TAKING legal action against The Irish Sun newspaper over a report that the station is to scrap Pat Kenny’s mid-morning show next year.

The story was earlier dismissed by a well-placed source who told TheJournal.ie that there is “no truth whatsoever” to the report.

This afternoon, Newstalk editor in chief Garrett Harte issued a strongly-worded denial, describing the story as a “work of fiction” and “false, misleading and damaging”.

The front page of The Irish Sun  said that Kenny’s eponymous mid-morning programme is to be axed by Newstalk bosses.

The paper reported that the 67-year-old’s programme would likely be scrapped in the new year following a review of programming.

However, the story noted that any decision would likely be delayed until after the general election.

The source dismissed the story, saying there is “no truth whatsoever to it at all in the slightest”.

‘Work of fiction’ 

Harte said in a statement: “This article is a complete work of fiction and contains absolutely no truth whatsoever. Pat has boosted audience figures for his programme by over 150% since starting two years ago.

“We are very happy with Pat’s performance and we are actively planning a number of large campaigns for next year including the General Election and Ireland’s appearance at the European Championships.

This false, misleading and damaging article is the antithesis of what we do in Newstalk. It is an article that was published based on misguided and ill-informed speculation and conjecture.

“At no time did the newspaper or journalist contact the station for comment. We have instructed our solicitors to commence action against the newspaper and we will ensure that the Irish Sun apologises for this attempt to damage both Pat Kenny and Newstalk.”

The Irish Sun and its parent company News UKhave not responded to requests for comment today.

‘Steal the audience’ 

Kenny made his shock move to Newstalk in 2013 after decades at RTÉ to present his morning current affairs programme, which runs from 10am to 12.30pm.

The move was an expensive one for the Communicorp station, who bet big on Kenny’s reputation to pull in more listeners. His pay package was previously reported to be in the region of €2 million, spread out over five years.

While listenership has grown to around 134,000 it still lags well behind Today with Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One which has around 328,000 listeners. O’Rourke replaced Kenny following his move from Montrose to Marconi House.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie earlier this month Kenny spoke of how he was trying to “steal the audience” from RTÉ and noted he had “built a great audience for Seán”:

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

He also said that he has not burnt bridges with the national broadcaster and would be prepared to return someday for the right project – but not to RTÉ Radio.

It’s understood that Newstalk will release a strongly-worded response to The Irish Sun story later today.

- additional reporting from Michael Freeman

WATCH: Will Pat Kenny ever return to RTÉ?

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Hugh O'Connell

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