Sunday 17 December 2017

Miriam O'Callaghan on her RTE salary publication: 'It's always very embarrassing to be honest'

Miriam O'Callaghan. Photo: Collins
Miriam O'Callaghan. Photo: Collins

Sean O'Grady and Melanie Finn

RTÉ's highest-paid female broadcaster Miriam O'Callaghan said she is embarrassed her salary details have been disclosed but hopes more women will join her on RTÉ's top earners list in the future.

The 'Prime Time' host is the fourth-highest paid presenter in Montrose, taking home an annual salary of €299,000.

The figures of the top 10 paid presenters were published yesterday, with Ryan Tubridy maintaining his position at the top, with a salary of €495,000.

Broadcaster Ray D'Arcy is the second-highest paid star, on a salary of €400,000.

'Liveline' presenter Joe Duffy comes in third with annual takings of €389,988, which is €26,906 less than his 2014 pay package.

Miriam O'Callaghan is next, and is one of three women to feature on the list, joining Marian Finucane (€295,000) and Claire Byrne (€201,500).

She hopes there will be a 50/50 split between male and female stars in the next salary publication.

"It's always very embarrassing to be honest," she told the Irish Independent.

"It's difficult for it not to be when the figures go out there, but it's happened to me for years so I'm used to it.

"I try to work as hard as I can. I'm in the middle of my chat show, 'Prime Time', I do my radio show and that's all I can say really. I try my best to work hard." In response to the gender pay row she replied: "It's such a complicated issue. I'm now the highest paid woman at RTÉ and for that I'm very grateful. I've never suffered any discrimination in RTÉ myself.

"I'd love to see more women in the top. There's three in the top 10 this year, and that is great.

"There's Claire, myself and Marian and I think when we get to five that's excellent and maybe one day we'll get to six and the world won't end."

Meanwhile, Sean O'Rourke, the sixth highest earner, said he was taking a "vow on monastic silence on all things to do with remuneration in RTÉ".

"I think I've slipped a little bit," he said. "I think I'm gone to number six but I've no complaints.

"I'm always happy to take whatever RTÉ is willing to pay me and I'm very lucky I've one of the best jobs on Irish radio, probably the best job. There's no job I want other than the one I do."

Broadcasters from rival stations were not critical of the salaries of RTÉ's top earners.

Newstalk's George Hook said he didn't see what the 'big fuss' was about.

"They negotiate their salaries with RTÉ. RTÉ was happy to pay them, so I assume you have two happy campers," he said.

"RTÉ sat them down and said 'how much do you want?' They said, 'I want this much' and RTÉ said, 'great', we're happy to pay you.

"I don't understand what all the kerfuffle is about. Is Rory McIlroy getting too much if he's on two, three, four million a year for hitting a ball around the grass?"

Today FM's Ian Dempsey echoed these sentiments.

"Good luck to the big earners," he said.

"They can't be blamed for accepting a big offer if it's made to them. They are box office so deserve to be paid well.

"Ray has a TV show and a radio show so his pay is not that monstrous really, likewise with Ryan."

However, there was one TV star who was highly critical of the salaries - axed RTÉ host Dustin the Turkey.

"If RTÉ is stupid enough to write the cheques, let them take it. I don't think any of them are worth it in there, maybe Claire Byrne at a push," Dustin said.

"Ray D'Arcy is brutal. Someone called into me the other day and said, 'why don't you have a TV licence?' I showed them a picture of Ray D'Arcy and they said, 'fair enough.'"

Irish Independent

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