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Friday 29 August 2014

Pat Kenny faces tough pay talks as RTE stars take big hit

Cormac McQuinn, Laura Butler and Luke Byrne

Published 28/03/2013 | 05:00

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Pat Kenny, Ryan Tubridy and Joe Duffy

TELEVISION presenter Pat Kenny is facing into tough contract negotiations later this year after huge pay cuts endured by fellow RTE stars were revealed.

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His successor as host of the 'Late Late Show', Ryan Tubridy, has already taken a pay cut of €228,500, according to new figures published by the national broadcaster.

Mr Tubridy had topped the league table of RTE's highest-paid presenters for 2011, with pay of €723,500, but agreed to having his fee slashed by 32pc to €495,000 when his contract was renewed last year.

Details of the size of the pay cut emerged last night as RTE published a list of its best-paid stars. The disclosure included a list of the top 10 best-paid presenters for 2011.

In a break with the tradition of only releasing figures which are at least two years old, RTE also announced the latest agreed fees for contractors like Mr Tubridy and Radio One presenter Marian Finucane.

Mr Tubridy (39), who also presents a radio show on 2FM, was paid more than his 'Late Late' predecessor Pat Kenny in 2011, according to the figures.

A freelance contractor, Mr Tubridy was paid €723,500 through his company Tuttle Productions Ltd.

Mr Kenny (65), meanwhile, was paid €630,000 that year for presenting the now-scrapped 'Frontline' programme and his Radio One morning show. Mr Kenny is now facing a substantial reduction when his contract comes up for renewal later this year.

Mr Kenny's fees remained stable in 2010 and 2011 on €630,000, down 34pc from the €950,976 he was paid in 2008 when he was still presenting 'The Late Late Show'.

Fine Gael TD Terence Flanagan, a member of the Oireactas Communications Committee described the fees as "grossly excessive", even after the cuts.

"These high salaries need to be cut right back and should not be higher than the Taoiseach's annual wage," he said.

Fianna Fail's communications spokesperson Michael Moynihan TD said hard pressed TV licence holders would be "scratching their heads" at the fees paid to RTE's top presenters and wondering if they were getting value for money.

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik described the figures as "enormous" and said that hopefully the process had begun of negotiating high fees downwards.

Ms Finucane was the third-best-paid presenter in 2011 when she received fees of €491,770 for her weekend programmes. Her latest agreed fees stand at €295,000, down 48pc from 2008 when she got €570,000.

She previously dismissed as "baloney" claims that she was paid hundreds of thousands of euro for working just four hours a week. She said there were "endless hours of research" that go into the four hours on-air on Saturdays and Sundays.

'Liveline' presenter Joe Duffy was the fourth highest paid contractor in 2011 with a fee of €377,776. His latest agreed fee is €300,000, a 27pc reduction on his pay of €408,889 in 2008. 'Prime Time's Miriam O'Callaghan was in fifth place in 2011 with fees of €307,250. Her latest agreed fee stands at €211,167.

Calls to Mr Tubridy, Mr Kenny, Mr Duffy and Ms O'Callaghan were not returned last night, while Ms Finucane could not be contacted.

Celebrity agent Noel Kelly, who represents Mr Tubridy and Mr Duffy, also didn't return calls.

'Saturday Night Show' host and 'Sunday Independent' columnist Brendan O'Connor was a new entrant to the top 10 with a payment of €228,000 in 2011. His fee is currently €158,400, down 31pc.

Commitment

Derek Mooney, an RTE employee, was the highest paid non-contractor on €220,000, while 'Week in Politics' host Sean O'Rourke was next with a salary of €208,801.

Football commentator George Hamilton was the ninth highest paid with a fee of €202,853 and 'Six-One News' presenter Bryan Dobson rounded of the top 10 for 2011 on €197,936.

2FM DJ Colm Hayes, who had been in the top 10 in 2009, is now paid €170,000, with his pay down 21pc from its peak in that year.

And football pundit Eamon Dunphy also dropped out of the top 10 in 2011. His fee of €106,000 is down 67pc from the €328,051 he was paid in 2008.

In a statement, the broadcaster said that it paid €4.45m to the 10 highest- paid presenters in 2008 and added: "Based on the latest negotiated rates, the projected fees of the highest paid presenters in 2013 is expected to be in the region of €3m."

Irish Independent

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