Friday 23 February 2018

Miriam to keep Pat’s seat warm while he boils on beach

Miriam O'Callaghan. Photo: Collins
Miriam O'Callaghan. Photo: Collins
Pat Kenny. Photo: Getty Images

Allison Bray and reporters

RTE stalwart Pat Kenny is to be replaced for one week of his summer break by RTE sweetheart and one of his biggest rivals Miriam O’Callaghan.

The Prime Time host said she was ‘delighted’ to be standing in as holiday cover for the RTE heavy-weight on the week beginning August 22.

Until now Myles Dungan has been the regular stand-in for Kenny and according to sources quoted by today’s edition of the Daily Mail, the 62-year-old presenter will not be impressed by his new replacement.

“If Pat knew that Miriam O’Callaghan was stepping in to take his place, he would have made sure he was not on holiday,” a source told the newspaper. “He will be flipping mad to see someone he would consider as a rival to be acting as a stand-in.”

Mother-of-eight O’Callaghan is already presenting Miriam Meets on radio and Saturday Night With Miriam on TV. She is seen as the front runner for the Late Late Show job if Ryan Tubridy makes a permanent move to the BBC.

Meanwhile RTE has poured scorn on claims that Tubridy has been given an ultimatum to shape up or ship out.

It was claimed yesterday that the highly paid host of 'The Tubridy Show' on 2fm was issued an ultimatum that he must improve his ratings or be replaced.

A report claimed yesterday that the so-called "golden boy" presenter of the 'Late Late Show' had been given three months to improve his radio listenership ratings during discussions with Montrose management last week.

The warning reportedly came after the latest JNLR survey figures -- published last month -- revealed the presenter had lost 110,000 listeners since taking over the slot from the late Gerry Ryan.

But an RTE spokesman labelled the claims as "fiction".

"Clearly all at 2fm, including Ryan, recognise the challenges of the months ahead, but as (RTE radio executives) Clare Duignan and John McMahon have both said recently, the show is working, it has found its rhythm, and now it's about making sure more listeners hear it. This is a shared aim and all at 2fm are coming together to achieve it," he said.

Tubridy is currently acting as a summer weekend replacement for Graham Norton on BBC Radio 2 in London for an eight-week stint, as well as presenting his own radio chat show on 2fm five days a week.

Meanwhile, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte has signalled that further pay cuts for some of RTE's top stars may be on the cards after labelling their salaries "excessive" yesterday.

Mr Rabbitte said he would like to see the six-figure salaries of broadcasters like Pat Kenny, Marian Finucane and Tubridy, brought into line with the amount of advertising revenue their programmes generate.

His comments came amid concerns that the state broadcaster continues to bleed revenue. RTE spent €4.7m more than it took in last year. And even though it is a far cry from the €16.5m it lost in 2009, he said costs must be brought under control.

"RTE can't go on incurring the kind of annual deficit that it is incurring and their costs simply have to be brought under control," he was quoted as saying yesterday.

"We can't have a situation where RTE is allowed to run up a big deficit every year and I've told the director general... to get it under control."


He also hinted that some of the broadcaster's top earners, including Kenny who was paid €950,976 in 2008, Tubridy who earns €533,000 and Finucane who is paid €570,000, should shoulder the biggest pay cuts.

"I think in the savings campaign initiated now in RTE, I expect that people earning the most will contribute most."

He also hinted that the contracts of high earners whose ratings -- and revenue-generating potential -- have slipped should be reviewed.

"Very often a yardstick measurement in the past has been the kind of advertising their programmes pull in. And these things do matter.

"If there was a programme, you might attract a great deal more advertising than if I were doing it. So there are different metrics to be brought to bear in the bargaining that goes on," he said.

RTE declined to comment last night on Mr Rabbitte's remarks. However, a spokesman said the state broadcaster was committed to getting out of the red by 2013.

He also said director general Noel Curran was committed to slashing the salaries of the top RTE presenters by 30pc when their contracts come up for renewal.

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