'Releasing pay of RTE's top stars could cause chaos', says Ian Dempsey
Ian Dempsey says releasing RTE salaries could cause chaos when broadcasters see how much their colleagues are paid.
RTE came under fire when it emerged that news presenter Sharon Ni Bheolain was paid up to €80,000 less than her co-anchor Bryan Dobson, who earns €195,000.
Former RTE man Dempsey said some broadcasters will be disappointed if they discover that the contracts they had negotiated left them on less than their counterparts.
"I think it might cause a bit of chaos if everyone brings out what everyone makes," he said. "You can't blame the broadcasters, male or female, for taking the best deal they can get."
While admitting that Ni Bheolain seems to be "highly underpaid" compared to Dobson, the Today FM host said it is not known what other factors RTE take into account when determining the salary of their employees.
"Sharon seems to be highly underpaid compared to Bryan but nobody knows what other jobs Bryan does or other jobs she does," she said. "You don't know what one person is doing above another person.
"When a general election is on, Bryan can be on TV for about 10 hours. You just don't know," he told the Herald.
Dempsey believed salary should come down to how talented a person is.
"I think the salary is judged on talent. It doesn't matter if it's a man or a woman. Who is the best person for the job? Once you get the job, you should be paid equally," he said.
RTE is expected to reveal its top 10 highest-paid broadcasters in coming weeks.
The most recent list included Marian Finucane and Miriam O'Callaghan, who were on €295,000 and €280,000 respectively in 2014.
Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy was the station's highest-paid star with earnings of €495,000, while Joe Duffy took home €416,893. Despite the disparity, Dempsey said some of the highest officials in RTE are female. "RTE has been there for a long time. To be fair, they have Dee Forbes at the top and they have Moya Doherty as chairman of the board," he said.
Meanwhile, stalwart presenter Bibi Baskin said: "I think whatever you earn is your own business. I know we pay the TV licence but I don't think that gives us the right to know what everyone earns.
"There should be equal pay for equal work but certain other factors have to be brought into the situation.
"For example, if one person has more experience, it would be fitting that that person would get more money and if that person happens to be female, they also should get more money."