Mystery presenter joins RTE big earners on over €300,000 pay
THE number of RTE contractors receiving payments of more than €300,000 has increased, the Herald can reveal.
New figures released by the broadcaster show 14 external employees are now on salaries above €100,000.
One unknown presenter has joined Ryan Tubridy, Ray D'Arcy and Joe Duffy in the highest pay bracket.
When RTE last named its top 10 earners, in 2015, Tubridy was on €495,000, Duffy on €416,893 and D'Arcy on €300,000.
Next in line were Miriam O'Callaghan on €299,000, Marian Finucane (€295,000) and Sean O'Rourke (€290,113).
Documents from RTE show that a fourth person is now being paid more than €300,000, though they are not named.
The details of contractor payments were gathered at the request of the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) following an appearance last month by RTE's director-general Dee Forbes.
The average amount paid last year to 81 third-party contractors who operate as limited companies was €66,679.
Overall, 53 people received up to €50,000 while 14 were in the bracket between €50,000 and €100,000.
The RTE report, dated May 29, also outlines details of a benchmarking project that was carried out against similar television stations in other jurisdictions.
The review found that each episode of Fair City filmed in 2016 cost €53,500 to produce. RTE broadcast 200 episode of the popular soap, meaning the total bill for the year was €10.7m.
"The budget covers the cost of filming 15 scenes per day, six days a week, programme labour, facilities, operations costs, scriptwriters, hair and make-up and location costs," the report states.
By comparison, a half-hour episode of BBC soap EastEnders costs around €270,000.
The six-part series Rebellion, based on the 1916 Rising and starring Charlie Murphy, was the most expensive drama ever commissioned by RTE, at a cost of €1m per episode.
In the report, RTE notes that "indigenous content" is significantly more expensive than buying up series such as Home and Away and Dr Phil.
"However, even with indigenous content, RTE strives to create content as cost effectively as possible," it says.
RTE cites competition from platforms such as Netflix as a problem, pointing out that the online streaming service spent $6.3bn (€5.3bn) on original and acquired programming last year.
Amazon is expected to invest $5bn (€4.2bn) in video content this year, with an emphasis on big-budget original shows and sports rights.
"In 2018, the BBC will spend £1.7bn [€2bn] on television content, nearly all of which is accessible to Irish audiences," the report states.