The Board of TG4 has appointed Mr Alan Esslemont as the service’s new Ardstiúrthóir (Director General). Mr Esslemont, currently Head of Content with the Scottish Gaelic television channel, BBC ALBA, has been appointed with the requisite statutory consent of the Government following an independent public competition for the post. He will take up the appointment in mid-October 2016. He succeeds Mr Pól Ó Gallchóir who has been at the head of the service since April 2000.
Mr Esslemont is a native of Braemar in Scotland and has had a long career in the TV content sector in his native country and in Ireland. In 1989 he was one of the first employees at Telegael, the west of Ireland’s pioneering independent audio-visual production company. He then joined the senior management team of Teilifís na Gaeilge, which in 1996 launched TnaG. He was the key content executive involved in the re-positioning and re-branding of the channel as TG4 in 1999 and as Director of Television for TG4 (2000-2007) he oversaw large increases in audience share and reach and was in charge of TG4’s multi-award winning Presentation department.
In 2008 Alan joined MG ALBA in Scotland and together with Head of Service, Margaret Mary Murray, he led the launch of BBC ALBA, the only BBC-licensed television service run in partnership. BBC ALBA has been an outstanding success and is now watched by over 600,000 viewers in Scotland every week, ten times the total Gaelic-speaking population of the country.
Alan holds an MBA from the Open University and is fluent in several languages including Irish. With his Mayo-born wife, Máire, he has lived in the Connemara Gaeltacht since 1989 in Cinn Mhara, Camus where they raised their five children through Irish.
He takes up his new role at a key juncture in the development of the Irish language TV channel, widely regarded as the most successful Irish language promotion initiative of recent times. It invests over €20m annually in original award-winning programming, sustaining over 300 jobs in the independent production sector. It has also pioneered many on-line and social media portals for its content which is available worldwide. TG4 will reach its 20th Birthday next Halloween, having commenced broadcasting on October 31st 1996.
Commenting on the new appointment, TG4 Chair, Siún Ní Raghallaigh said “We are most fortunate to have someone of Alan’s calibre and wide experience to take over at the helm at this exciting but challenging time in TG4’s development. She also paid tribute to the outgoing Mr Ó Gallchóir, citing his long and diligent service to the channel and the many landmark achievements during his period in office.
CEO of MG ALBA, Dòmhnall Caimbeul, said “The last eight years have been extraordinarily impactful here with the direction and energy Alan has imbued on BBC ALBA and on us all and, despite the loss his departure will be for us, we look forward to benefitting from close and fruitful collaboration with TG4 over the coming years.”
Mr Esslemont added “I am looking forward to this exciting challenge and to returning to TG4 to work with the highly talented staff and our partners in the Irish language content creation sector as TG4 enters its third decade of public service to its national and global audience.”
Linda Ní Ghríofa, TG4
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