RTE director general Bob Collins is to step down six months before his contract expires.
In a move that has surprised both management and staff at the broadcaster, he said he had decided to leave early so that the national broadcaster would not have to undergo months of speculation about who should succeed him.
Collins has been in the top RTE post for the past six years. In a letter to staff, he said that speculation about who should succeed him could create uncertainty and this would be “highly undesirable and potentially damaging”.
There is general agreement that the outgoing director general generated considerable stability, which enabled the station to stay on an even keel as its financial situation worsened and as hundreds of staff were induced to take early retirement.
Collins fought a hard battle to persuade the Government to increase its licence fee, and in this he eventually succeeded under the new Government elected last year.
RTE has been traditionally reluctant to appoint outsiders to the top job, and it is expected that the governing body, the RTE Authority, will favour an internal successor to Collins.
By Des Cryan in Dublin