Thursday 5 December 2019

'Pay cuts are going to happen': RTÉ's Maura Derrane says changes need to be accepted 'for greater good'

Change of direction: Presenter Maura Derrane and her TD husband John Deasy. Photo: Tony Gavin
Change of direction: Presenter Maura Derrane and her TD husband John Deasy. Photo: Tony Gavin
Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

RTÉ presenter Maura Derrane has opened up on the crisis in the station and said everybody has to accept the changes "for the greater good".

The 'Today with Maura and Daithi' star said pay cuts will inevitably happen and everyone has to accept the realities of the company's fiscal situation, which saw it with a €13m deficit last year.

"I suppose the pay cuts are definitely going to happen, across the board," she said.

"Everybody has to do what they have to do, it's as simple as that. There's nothing else you can say, it's just the way it is.

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"If it has to be done, it has to be done, for the greater good.

"It is tough times for traditional media, whether you work in TV or newspapers, but RTÉ has to work its way through this and that's just the way it is.

"Obviously Dee Forbes has a plan and an idea and she broke it all up very well I thought. And what can you do? You just have to go along with it and see what happens.

"Look, there's a younger generation that wants stuff on demand and developing things like the RTÉ Player will help that. Everyone has to change."

However, she poured cold water on suggestions that RTÉ was considering selling its Cork studios.

"We've heard nothing about that down there. Of course we read (reports) but no, I don't think that's happening," she said.

"Some of Lyric FM is going to move down to us, apparently. So that was announced recently so it looks like it's staying put. There's a lot coming out of Cork. In the sense of TV, our show is filling a massive schedule from September to the end of May.

"So to be honest about things, it doesn't really make great economics to get rid of Cork (studio)."

A former Virgin Media journalist who has been on contract with RTÉ since 2009, she is the latest presenter to speak out about the ongoing crisis in the national broadcaster.

A 15pc pay cut for top presenters will take effect on January 1 next but may not apply to all of the top-10 earners as three of them are RTÉ staff members.

However, they will be subject to any staff pay cuts agreed with unions.

Ms Derrane is not included in the list of top earners. Contractors are also not entitled to a host of benefits available to employees, including pension payments.

Meanwhile, she said that "change is good" when it comes to her TD husband John Deasy not contesting the next general election.

The Waterford man, who is father to their son Cal (5), has been working as special envoy to the US since 2017 and he has been working on the issue of undocumented Irish emigrants.

"He's been in politics many, many years and I think he wants a change in direction so I'm actually very happy about this," she said.

"I think it's been coming for a while, privately.

"John has been thinking about this for a while. But John has a lot of different options. I think that change is good."

Irish Independent

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