Monday 16 September 2019

Ray D'Arcy will negotiate new wage deal with RTÉ - but other stars remain tight-lipped

Ray Darcy. Picture: Steve Humphreys
Ray Darcy. Picture: Steve Humphreys
Miriam O'Callaghan
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

RTÉ star Ray D'Arcy said he is prepared to take a pay cut from his €450,000-a-year salary, but his fellow presenters remain tight-lipped on whether they will follow suit.

The radio and TV presenter revealed he will be meeting management this week to negotiate a new wage deal at the cash-strapped station.

D'Arcy, who is the second-highest earner behind Ryan Tubridy on €495,000, said he is acutely aware of RTÉ's financial difficulties.

The Irish Independent asked his fellow presenters at the national broadcaster, including Miriam O'Callaghan, Joe Duffy, Sean O'Rourke and Mary Wilson, if they would agree to a wage cut given the current financial situation at the station.

However, the broadcasters did not respond at the time of going to press.

RTÉ director general Dee Forbes last week revealed the financial situation at the broadcaster was "not like anything we have seen before", adding: "As a result, it will not be possible to continue as we are."

Miriam O'Callaghan
Miriam O'Callaghan

D'Arcy said at the weekend he is prepared to take a pay cut if asked by bosses at the cash-strapped station.

Asked if there was pressure on him to reduce his wages, D'Arcy said: "I'll find out next week. I'm in negotiations, but I imagine there is and I have no problem with that."

D'Arcy has been one of RTÉ's biggest earners since he was poached five years ago from Today FM, where he had the top daily show.

Read more here: Ray D'Arcy vows to 'take a pay cut' as RTÉ director warns staff of financial situation

RTÉ warned the broadcasting regulator that it could be forced to make compulsory redundancies if it did not receive an increase of €55m per year in funding.

NUJ general secretary Seamus Dooley said the "predictable media stories" that followed Ms Forbes's comments had a very unsettling effect on staff.

"I believe that this may have been an attempt to condition staff at RTÉ into believing that compulsory redundancies are inevitable," he said.

"This is something that the NUJ would be completely against as we don't believe compulsory redundancies would be in the interest of the public.

"From our point of view, we would rather be presented with direct, specific proposals that are properly costed rather than a series of nudges, winks and hints," he said.

Calls have been made to reduce the salaries of the broadcaster's top presenters.

Mr Dooley said RTÉ had failed to listen to the "relentless" calls to deal with the issue of 'talent pay'.

"The problem is that any debate on RTÉ lumps all employees and workers into the one grade and there's a notion that it is a highly paid organisation.

"The NUJ has long been calling for a cap on higher pay within RTÉ, both at executive level and at the level of contractors.

"It is over a decade since staff at RTÉ have gotten a pay increase, but the debate about salary cannot just be for the top earners," he said.

Read more here: Samantha McCaughren: 'The time for kid gloves in Montrose is over'

The station's overall income has decreased by a staggering €100m in the past decade.

It recorded losses of €18m last year, despite cuts and 150 voluntary redundancies over the past two years.

RTÉ said that with no extra funding, regional services, sports and drama were among the services likely to face cuts, while compulsory redundancies would also be required.

The group outlined to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland that its preferred strategy for the future was to move to a "third phase" as a public service broadcaster, becoming a "fully integrated multi-media organisation".

This would entail "a significant shift" in spending "from broadcast TV and radio to online", particularly for news services and content for younger audiences.

Read more here: We can no longer continue as we are, RTE boss warns

Irish Independent

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