Tubridy: 'My job is not under threat, cut me some slack'
'LATE Late Show' host Ryan Tubridy says he won't fight looming salary cuts at RTE, and is happy with his shows despite falling ratings.
Last night, Tubridy broke his silence after a week of intense scrutiny sparked by drops in his TV and radio figures.
Asking his critics to "cut him some slack" for his radio show, Tubridy spoke out to "set the record straight".
And he joked that he, too, would have watched the Ireland versus Slovakia football game had he not been presenting his own chatshow at the time.
He also revealed that Senator David Norris would appear on the programme next week, and might use the appearance to re-enter the presidential race.
Tubridy dismissed any suggestion that a drop in his ratings could affect his contract negotiations with the station next year.
"That won't be used -- because I am assured it won't be," he told the Irish Independent.
RTE director general Noel Curran is planning to reduce presenters' pay at the station by more than 30pc, relative to 2008 levels, and Tubridy is agreeable to the salary cuts.
"There was a culture here (RTE), a culture of high pay, and that's going to change, and I think that's right.
"I am a realist and I see what is happening in the country. I see what happened in Talk Talk this week."
The 37-year-old star of RTE's flagship chat show made the comments after a drop of more than 180,000 on viewing figures for the first 'Late Late Show' of the season last Friday, which has been blamed on RTE Two coverage of the Ireland versus Slovakia game. This setback came shortly after radio listenership figures showed a drop of 110,000 listeners since he took over a slot on 2fm from the late Gerry Ryan.
"Cut me some slack, will you? I know the real story of what's going on," said Tubridy.
He pointed out that the radio figures were not comparing like-with-like because Gerry Ryan's show was longer, giving more listeners the time to tune in.
"This was a three-hour radio show presented by the biggest personality in the land for 25 years. I took over with a two-hour show," said Tubridy.
"We're fixing it and I'm happy with the way it's sounding."
The presenter strongly denied that he had been warned by RTE management that his job was under threat.
"There is a bizarre whirlwind of rumour and hearsay going on about which I want to set the record straight," he said.
"I have not been told my job is under threat. There have been no panic meetings.
"I haven't been told anything by anyone in management in RTE, other than you are doing a great job. I have a positive wind in my sails."
Tubridy added: "The figures we got on Friday night weren't a fair playing pitch because the match was on.
"We knew that we were up against a very important qualifying match. . . in fact if I had been off, I would have been watching the Ireland match, too, but I was working."
After recently finishing up his summer stint covering for Graham Norton on BBC Radio 2, the RTE star said he "very happy with how things went", and said a second summer run in 2012 could be possible.
For now he will focus on his radio show and the 'Late Late' with Mr Norris to appear on the programme next week.
"I plan to get into everything with David. Everything which is relevant to the discussion will be up for grabs," he said.
However, he added that he does not plan to be hosting the 'Late Late Show' for 10 years like predecessor Pat Kenny.
"I don't know if I have the patience for 10 years. I love doing it but I'm also the kind of person who loves doing new things," he said. He went on to dismiss reports that he had snubbed by RTE in favour of veteran Gay Byrne to host a 50th anniversary celebration on New Year's Eve.
"I have a lot going on so anything you hear about 'snubs' and not being asked is a myth.
"Let Gay enjoy the moment. He is the grandaddy of everything and it would be a mistake to let a rookie like me in to do the job."
Guests on tonight's 'Late Late Show' at 9.30pm on RTE1 include Mahdi al-Harati, the Irish Libyan rebel leader who led the main rebel brigade into Tripoli, former footballer Ronnie Whelan, and veteran British TV personality Jimmy Saville of 'Jim'll Fix It' fame.