Because he's worth it - RTÉ defends Ray D'Arcy's €400k salary, says he's 'good value for money'
RTÉ has insisted broadcaster Ray D'Arcy represents 'good value for money' after it was revealed he takes home an annual pay package of €400,000.
D'Arcy returned to the station in 2015 and is now the second-highest-paid presenter at the station; Ryan Tubridy remains the highest earner with an annual salary of €495,000.
To address the gender pay gap and issues of transparency, RTÉ's director general Dee Forbes swiftly published the remuneration figures yesterday.
Given that the national broadcasters annual deficit is €19.6m, many will wonder how the station can afford to continue stars such high salaries.
Last night RTÉ Group commercial director Willie O'Reilly defended Mr D'Arcy's salary.
"He is now on less than he was when he was in his previous employment [on Today FM] and he is doing radio five days a week and television on a Saturday night," Mr O'Reilly said. "RTÉ has got Ray to our station at less than he was getting elsewhere."
Asked if he thought this represented good value for money he replied; "I think it is, yes."
However, 'Liveline' presenter Joe Duffy earned €389,988, which is €26,906 less than his 2014 pay package.
One of the issues at the centre of the pay row centred on the gender pay gap. Sharon Ní Bheoláin aired her dissatisfaction that she earns €80,000 less than her co-anchor Bryan Dobson.
Meanwhile, 2fm's Nicky Byrne is on a salary of over €200,000 while his co-host Jenny Greene failed to make it on to the top 10 list. Mr O'Reilly said it must be noted, however, that Byrne's salary is composite and reflects his work on radio and TV.
- Read more - Revealed: Top 10 highest earning RTE presenters includes three women, while Ray D'Arcy was paid €400k
He added; "When you join RTÉ as staff it is a gender neutral pay scale ... But when you go in front of the microphone it all changes and when you host a programme it changes again."
He said listenership figures, time on air and workload were al factors in salaries. Mr O'Reilly also suggested that RTÉ stars could face pay cuts in the coming months.
"[Salaries] will remain under scrutiny and will be an agenda item for reform. I would suggest that if RTÉ is going to shrink ...that in time these [salaries] may shrink too."
Meanwhile, it has emerged that RTÉ is holding off on publishing full details of the gap between its male and female workers' pay despite a demand by staff for full transparency.
Education correspondent Emma O'Kelly revealed she has not received a response to a request to give a breakdown of earnings across the station based on gender. Ms O'Kelly, who is also chair of the Dublin Broadcasting Branch of the National Union of Journalists, called on the station to reveal the data after it finally produced a list of what its highest earning stars got two years ago.
Ms O'Kelly, called on the station to also publish a breakdown of pay across all divisions.
It is understood that newscasters Mr Dobson and Ms Sharon Ní Bheoláin met yesterday to discuss the pay issue for the first time. Relations between the pair have remained strong despite Ms Ni Bheoláin revealing to the 'Sunday Independent' that she earns up to €80,000 less than Mr Dobson.
Despite the decision by RTÉ to publish the 2015 figures yesterday, staff who spoke to the Irish Independent last night were still very critical privately. Among the issues raised include the failure by RTÉ to publish the top 20 earners instead of 10. This would demonstrate more transparency, sources said.
Fine Gael Senator Ray Butler called for pay caps at the national broadcaster and raised questions about RTÉ's salaries in the Dáil as far back as December 2014.
He also said he believes there is an onus on RTÉ to publish the presenters' salaries on an annual basis given the licence fee cash being provided to the station.
Government sources said legislation would be required to force RTÉ to publish a list of those earning more than €100,000 and that such an order could have implications for other semi-states as well.
A Department of Communications spokesman added that minister Denis Naughten has "publicly stated that he would be in favour of transparency in this matter."