Thursday 19 October 2017

RTÉ will not name stars who get paid over €100k

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Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

RTÉ has said it has "no plans" to publish details of salaries beyond its top 10 stars, despite growing political pressure for greater transparency surrounding pay at the broadcaster.

RTÉ has insisted that it is prohibited by law from publishing a list of presenters being paid more than €100,000.

It also shot down calls for the salaries of its top 10 highest paid stars to be published every year, arguing that the figures have "commercial sensitivity".

Communications Minister Denis Naughten has said that RTÉ should voluntarily publish salaries of presenters earning more than €100,000.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil communications spokesman Timmy Dooley told the Irish Independent that RTÉ should release its top 10 highest paid list every year to "take the mystery out of it".

However, an RTÉ spokesman said that there are "no plans" to extend the published list of presenters beyond the top 10 and that legislation prohibits releasing a list of those on more than €100,000 due to "privacy and data protection restrictions".

The spokesman said that RTÉ has a two-year delay in publishing earnings for its top 10 stars as the figures have "commercial sensitivity".

He said that unlike the BBC, RTÉ is funded by commercial revenue as well as the television licence fee, and the gap is to "ensure RTÉ retains competitiveness".

Mr Dooley has also said he wants to see an independent review of pay structures across RTÉ, to ensure there's no gender bias in the organisation.

RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes and chair of the RTÉ Authority Moya Doherty attended a special event to mark the National Lottery's 30th anniversary last night as controversy over the gender pay gap continued to swirl.

When asked by this newspaper if she would comment on the pay issue, Ms Doherty replied: "No, not tonight, not tonight."

Earlier at the event, Ms Forbes declined to answer questions when approached by the Irish Independent.

Speaking at the event, presenter Marty Whelan said there are a number of factors that dictate a broadcaster's salary.

Read More: Firms run by RTÉ's top earners sitting on substantial cash piles

He told the Irish Independent: "What can I say? The whole situation about that is that it's a very odd argument.

"It comes down to experience, it comes down to drawing power, I suppose. It comes down to a whole bunch of things.

"So it's not just black and white, it can't be. People will make all sorts of arguments."

Opportunity

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said she would like to see greater transparency across the board, not just at RTÉ.

"What helps with this is transparency but what I would say is equal pay for equal work is long established.

"We have to ensure that is happening because it is illegal if it is not.

"But then in terms of opportunity. In terms of women's opportunities, you still then have to look at attitudes, sexism and childcare.

"It is still a big issue for women. A lot of women talk to me about it. I think transparency and what firms are actually paying would be good. I will be having discussions with firms in relation to that to see if we can move to a more transparent situation.

"That is the first step. But this hasn't suddenly started with RTÉ.

"But we are seeing a lot of improvement for women in Ireland over the last 10-20 years but that doesn't mean that you take your eye off the ball. There are still ongoing issues."

Irish Independent

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