He was the last person to head up a victorious Irish delegation at Eurovision and now he’s set to take the top job at the European Broadcasting Union. On Monday 29 May, the EBU formally announced that Noel Curran will take over the role of EBU Director General from Ingrid Deltenre in September.
Curran — husband of Eurovision 1996 winner Eimear Quinn — has spent much of his career with Ireland’s national broadcaster RTÉ, most recently holding the position of director general from 2010 to 2016. He was heavily involved with the station’s Eurovision efforts throughout the 1990s, acting as head of delegation on several occasions, including in 1996 when he met his future wife-to-be. He took on the position of Executive Producer when Ireland hosted in 1997.
While the EBU is best known for organising Eurovision, the Irishman won’t be directly involved with the day-to-day running of the contest — that’s still Jon Ola Sand’s responsibility. He’ll be kept busy managing the organisation itself, which is an alliance of public-service media organisations with 73 members in 56 European countries and an additional 34 associates. It also negotiates for sports rights on behalf of members and lobbies to promote and protect public-media funding and freedoms.
However, like his predecessor, he’s likely to dip in and out of the contest as needs dictate. Ingrid Deltenre was one of the key players in the dramas which arose surrounding Romania’s expulsion in 2016 and the Russia/Ukraine dispute in 2017.
Speaking in the official press release, President of the EBU Jean-Paul Philippot says:
“We are delighted to welcome Noel Curran as the new Director General of the EBU. Noel was the candidate of choice in what was an extremely strong list of candidates. He impressed us with his sound public service values, his operational experience and his understanding of the public service media ecosystem within today’s rapidly evolving media environment. His leadership experience as Director General of RTÉ will be invaluable as the EBU moves towards the next chapter in its history. I am confident he will do a very good job for the EBU, for all our Members, and for public service media.”
For his part, Curran adds
“There is now, more than ever, a compelling case for what public service media does, and what the Members of the European Broadcasting Union do, day in, day out. The EBU represents some of the finest media organizations, content-makers and journalists in the world. The position of DG is a huge honour, and I will work with the membership to seize every opportunity and to move ahead with the changes necessary to secure the future of public service media. I look forward to working with Jean-Paul, with the EBU team and with our Members, from all regions in the EBU, to serve our audiences’ needs.”
Noel Curran and Eimear Quinn
Eimear Quinn famously took the Eurovision trophy back to Ireland in 1996, beating the likes of Britain’s Gina G and Norway’s Elisabeth Andreassen. “The Voice” brought an end to a remarkable period of Irish success at the contest when the island nation won four times in five years.
The country has failed to win since, and recently saw its present non-qualification streak extend to four years.
As for Eimear and Noel, the ethereal songstress claims in a 2006 interview that it was basically love at first sight.
“It was a pretty instant thing… I thought he was amazing.”
Curran first met Eimear’s parents on the night of the final, and three weeks later he was reintroduced to them as her boyfriend.
“So the best thing in the world for me came out of the Eurovision, really. There’s winning and there’s winning!”
The pair have since married and are parents to two daughters.