Saturday 20 July 2019

'We're not all drinking lattes and getting taxis' - Radio boss says RTÉ is a 'tightly-run machine' despite deficit

Dan Healy
Dan Healy
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Radio boss Dan Healy has insisted RTE is a "tightly-run machine" despite the broadcaster running up a €19.7m deficit last year.

The head of 2FM made his comments following a week of controversy over pay at the state broadcaster.

"We're not all out here drinking lattes and getting taxis - we're a tightly-run machine," Mr Healy told the Herald.

"2FM is run very cost-effectively. Our content is world-class. The content we offer is of huge value.

"We fulfil our public service remit - we connect with people under the age of 30 and we are committed to playing Irish music. We are a service for everyone in Ireland."

Mr Healy and RTE Radio One head Tom McGuire challenged claims that the station's top talent were overpaid, saying pay rates were "decent and fair".

Some of RTE's highest-earners, including Marian Finucane and Joe Duffy, hold prime-time slots on Radio One.

Both presenters were in the top 10 of best-paid in the most recent figures released in 2014. Finucane earned €295,000, while Duffy took home €416,893.

Radio One presenter and Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy was RTE's highest-paid star that year, with an annual pay package of €495,000.

"They earn their money, they work hard. The rates are competent," Mr McGuire said.

Asked if he thought any of the top earners would be willing to take a pay cut in light of the imminent 200-plus voluntary redundancies at the station, he said they had already taken "dramatic pay cuts" in the past and had made huge sacrifices.

Asked about the gender pay gap in RTE, Mr Healy said he could not comment on salary guides, but the station had many strong female voices.

"RTE will be speaking about the pay gap separately," he said, "but in our daytime schedule there is a 50/50 gender breakdown.

"We sought out people who were good storytellers, the selection wasn't based on gender.

"But it just happened that it turned out that we have a 50/50 breakdown. And we have great emerging female talent coming to the fore like Lottie Ryan.

"We have extremely strong female voices on air and we are a national leader when it comes to giving women a platform.

"We have Jacqui Hurley, Joanne Cantwell, Olivia O'Leary, Marian Richardson, Miriam O'Callaghan and Marian Finucane.

"Look at Newstalk or Today FM - where is their 50/50 gender breakdown?"

Meanwhile, RTE has appointed former Workplace Relations Commission chief Kieran Mulvey to conduct an independent review into the gender pay gap.

RTE made the announcement after the National Union of Journalists called for a detailed pay scale breakdown.

It followed an ad hoc meeting of RTE's NUJ staff yesterday where concerns were voiced.


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