Veteran TV producer Debbie O’Donnell has been at the helm of TV3’s Xposé since its launch in 2007 and she’ll be sharing her insider views on the industry and productivity at the next IMAGE Networking Breakfast, this Friday October 27th.Following a successful career on breakfast TV with Sky UK, Debbie first created Ireland AM before turning her considerable talent to Xposé, which has established itself as one of TV3’s most valuable assets. “Reaching the ten year milestone is a huge achievement – ten years in TV land is a long time.”
However, success generally doesn’t come without a few bumps along the way. “The financial crash in 2008 was one of our biggest challenges. When we launched, the Celtic Tiger was at its peak. Xposé was a celebration of Irish society at its best, with each night offering a different champagne party. Within two years, what was previously the best had become a parody of the worst; our economy was on its knees. To survive we had to fundamentally change the show. We listened to how our viewers’ lives were changing; disposable income had dried up, belts were being tightened. Balance was the key: managing that fine line between being aspirational and being out of touch.”
“The changing ways in which people consume content is an ongoing challenge. We like our content now and on demand. When Xposé launched, we were one of the first shows on Irish television to deliver lifestyle content. Ten years later, and everyone is a broadcaster. With social media, the quicker the information is delivered, the better, and the quicker we can consume it, even better again. But these other platforms have shortcomings, often delivering inaccurate, libellous information. I’ve worked hard to learn everything I can about each new media platform. I have about a million apps on my phone! To compete, you have to stay constantly on top of the media game.”
With 20 years’ experience behind her, what’s her advice to women looking to break into the TV industry? “Success is 90 per cent determination and ten per cent talent. If you believe in yourself and don’t take no for an answer, then nothing will stand in your way. I won’t lie – it’s tough. Focus is key. Know what area you want to work in, and go for it.
“We must ensure we choose women for panels and on our shows – our voices need to be heard. We must highlight the role of women both on air and behind the scenes in both production and managerial roles, the ones running the business of television. We’ve come a long way, but there is much more to be achieved.”