Starcrash TV | 

Virgin Media stars fear for their future as TV station bids to reduce costs

Director of Content Bill Malone is to wield his axe again this week with a handful of household names on the chopping block

Director of Content Bill Malone

Daragh Keany

Some of Virgin Media's biggest names have spent the last 48 hours in heated negotiations with bosses, in a desperate last attempt to cling on to their jobs.

The Sunday World has learned that Director of Content at the Ballymount station, Bill Malone is to wield his axe again this week with a handful of household names on the chopping block.

The dust hadn't even settled on the station's autumn schedule launch last Wednesday when it was announced that the hugely popular Elaine Show was being axed.

The decision to move Crowley to Ireland AM for three days a week comes just a week after Anna Daly left the station citing her "side hustle business has grown exponentially".

Presenters at Virgin Media are set for another shake up.

But rumours have circulated all week that she was just the latest target in the sights of the Virgin Media boss looking to make savings.

Before Daly's untimely departure Matt Cooper stepped down from his twice-weekly Tonight Show slot after five years.

And while no one questioned his departure at the time as anything other than him trying to free up some time to spend with his family - he has a Monday to Friday radio show as well as being a regular newspaper columnist - it is now clear that he was another big faller in the new regime.

Pat Kenny also cut ties with Virgin Media on Monday and there may be more to come.

Vogue Williams

In the latest shuffle of presenters Karen Koster has moved from Ireland AM to the Six O'Clock Show with the new golden girl, Muireann O'Connell, going the other way to work with Tommy Bowe.

Martin King will stay put for now to work alongside his former colleague in a new look evening show that is rumoured to bring more showbiz to our tellies to mimic Xposé.

It is a far cry from the Virgin Media schedule built by Ben Frow that focussed entirely on homegrown talent and shows. When the TV guru took over in 2007 he immediately went about creating the station's IPU, Independent Production Unit, which was responsible for Ireland AM, The 11 O'Clock Show, Elaine, Xposé, The 7 O'Clock Show, The Dunphy Show and the Tonight Show.

Frow played a huge role in making shows like The Apprentice work on Irish TV with the help of outside production companies.

Anna Daly has departed Virgin Media.

The station's mantra used to be to create more Irish content than commissioned content as they attempted to rival RTE on many fronts. But soon after Bill Malone took charge of the channel and immediately culled the IPU in an attempt to shave costs and increase profits.

Unfortunately for him and the staff at Ballymount, the pandemic has not been kind to Virgin Media, which lost viewers across the board at nearly every level except for their news contents. Even their staple soaps like s and Coronation Street have seen viewer figures fall since the pandemic began.

They are pinning all their hopes on talent show The Big Deal, hosted by Vogue Williams, being a huge success so they can sell it globally to increase the value of the station for potential sale, as reported in other newspapers last weekend.

Revenues at Virgin Media Ireland were €224 million for the first half of this year, which was a 3pc increase on the same period for the previous year. But it is widely believed that their broadband, TV service and mobile phone plans contributed to the bump in revenue.

Today's Headlines

More Irish Showbiz

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices