independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Some RTE salaries are 'extraordinary', admits Taoiseach

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has said that some of the sums paid to RTE stars were "quite extraordinary".

He was speaking in Waterford in the wake of the publication of six-figure salaries for the likes of Ryan Tubridy, Pat Kenny and Miriam O'Callaghan.

The Taoiseach also said that it remained to be seen what levels of pay would be given to some RTE stars in the future.

"Given the nature of the financial circumstances that RTE finds itself in ... some are quite extraordinary," he said when asked to comment on the issue.

The station's top presenters have all taken cuts since 2008, with Tubridy seeing a reduction of €230,000.

"I understand some of them (salaries) are still under review," said Mr Kenny. These include Pat Kenny whose contract is up for renewal this year.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said he is satisfied with the cut in wages for RTE's top contract earners. However, the stars have gone to ground since the figures were released. Asked if he was content with the cuts taken by the broadcaster's highest-paid presenters, he said: "RTE has confronted difficult times in the last few years and people who work in RTE, conventional employees, have taken a serious hit.

Scarcity

"Others have lost their jobs, albeit in a voluntary redundancy programme. So in circumstances like that it was important that everybody is seen to make a contribution according to their means," he told RTE Radio.

Mr Rabbitte also said RTE is required "to break even at the end of this year – and the advice I have is that that will be done".

Despite the scarcity of RTE's top stars since the salaries were publicised, the national broadcaster insisted that no gagging order has been put in place.

Calls made to Mr Kenny and Mr Tubridy were not returned last night, while Ms O'Callaghan declined to comment when contacted by the Irish Independent.

A station spokesperson said: "As contractors, each presenter is at liberty to discuss the terms of their contract as they wish."

Pat Kenny is on scheduled leave, which was arranged prior to the salary figures being issued. Ryan Tubridy will do a stint at the BBC next week.

Miriam O'Callaghan cancelled some engagements at short notice due to a chest infection. She did not appear on 'Prime Time' last night.

Bryan Dobson was also absent from RTE's 'Six One' news bulletin programme. Things carried on as normal for Colm Hayes and Joe Duffy, who were both on air yesterday.

Marian Finucane, the third-best-paid presenter in 2011 when she received fees of €491,770, will also be on air as normal this weekend.

Irish Independent

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