Marian Finucane: Claims I get €500k for four hours a week are ‘baloney’
RTE presenter Marian Finucane has dismissed as "baloney" claims she was paid more than €500,000 a year for working just four hours each week.
The 61-year-old is at the centre of controversy after figures released last week revealed the national broadcaster paid her €513,270 in fees in 2009 for her weekend shows.
She denied working for just two hours each Saturday and Sunday but last night she couldn't clarify the exact number of hours she works during the week in preparation for the shows.
She said there were "endless hours of research" for her shows, which run from 11am until 1pm on Saturday and Sunday on RTE Radio 1.
"My radio goes on at seven o'clock in the morning and when I'm finished with Vincent Browne (on TV3 at night) I go on to the international channels. That is all part of what I do. I would think it was funny if it didn't make me cross, but I don't think anybody believes that (I only work four hours) anyway," said Ms Finucane.
Last night RTE's incoming Group Commercial Director, Today FM's Willie O'Reilly, rowed in to defend top personalities by saying their on-screen roles meant they had to "surrender" their privacy.
"If you are on any national platform, it's not just the pay you get for doing your job, you also surrender a lot of your private life, and I think there has to be a value put on that," Mr O'Reilly told the Irish Independent.
Mr O'Reilly, who begins work at RTE on January 1, said that there were other considerations which had to be factored in as to why the best-known faces on the state broadcaster earned hundreds of thousands in fees.
"Some of the contracts in RTE prohibit people from doing other commercial work which contracts in the independent sector don't do.
"I think both this and the loss of privacy are two important factors if you are talking about presenters' fees," added Mr O'Reilly.
Yesterday, Ms Finucane, in an interview with Today FM presenter Ray D'Arcy to promote her new book 'The Saturday Interviews 2005-2011', appeared to indicate her fees with RTE were agreed after a rival broadcaster had attempted to poach her with a substantial offer.
"I did give it consideration, they (RTE) would have known, I gave it consideration," she said.
However, last night at the launch of her book, she backtracked, stating the pay rise was "not particularly" due to being offered a job with a rival station.
"Everything has changed, absolutely everything. We live in a different country to when both sides negotiated that and I'll do whatever has to be done," she said. The star confirmed she had taken several drops in her fees since 2009.
"I feel uncomfortable about it but the world has transformed, and I have taken three cuts at this point -- everything that was asked," she said.
"That contract was negotiated really in the context that the weekend (shows) had worked out very well," she said.
Meanwhile, RTE National Lottery host Marty Whelan has said that it was not just the top 10 RTE presenters who had taken a drop -- the cuts had affected staff right across the station.
"I have taken my 30pc," he said. "You don't mind when everybody is feeling the same amount of pain because there are lots of presenters who aren't busy, so the honest thing to do is to accept it."
Mr Whelan, however -- who last appeared on the RTE top 10 presenters' list in 2006, when he was paid €229,056 -- has a contract with the national broadcaster which does allow him to do voiceovers for Tesco.