Thursday 27 July 2017

RTE secretive about reduced expenses bill

Grainne Cunningham

RTE has slashed executives' expenses bills by over 60pc but the national broadcaster remains far more secretive than the BBC about how managers spend taxpayers' money.

While it published figures for the totals spent in areas such as dinner and lunches, it refused to divulge the names of the eateries involved.

The six-member executive board claimed a total of €23,000 in expenses in 2009, representing a considerable reduction from €66,265 claimed in 2008 and €65,526 claimed in 2007.

RTE released the figures yesterday, "in response to a number of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from media organisations", a statement said.

However, despite claiming the organisation "is supportive of the FOI process in increasing public understanding of, and improving the transparency of, the work of public bodies", the detail of expense claims released falls far short of that which is released by the BBC executives.



Detail

For instance, Cathal Goan claimed back just over €6,000 last year which is broken down to reveal how much he spent on flights (€1,028), trains (€315), taxis (€782) and entertainment (€2,771). But the BBC executive board publishes its members' expenses voluntarily on a quarterly basis and in far more detail. They are also available online for all to see.

So while it is known that BBC director general Mark Thompson spent €14.41 on a taxi he took to visit his RTE counterpart Cathal Goan on February 20 last year, the same information is not available from RTE.

Also RTE states that it will not release "information disclosing the identities of business contacts or journalistic contacts" but the BBC also sees fit to release details, at least on some dates, of what restaurant its executive members dined in and who they enjoyed lunch, dinner or drinks with.

An RTE spokesman said "no decision had been made" on releasing expenses voluntarily on a regular basis.

Managing director of television Noel Curran who claimed hefty expenses of €18,254 in 2007 and €17,335 in 2008 has reduced his bill to a thrifty €2,246 for 2009. The sharp reduction in expenses claimed last year follows cutbacks at Montrose, which has seen its cost base fall by up to €60m.

Irish Independent

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