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Kenny faces €100,000 cut as RTE to cap presenters' pay

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Radio host Pat Kenny at the RTE Radio studios  yesterday morning.Pic Tom Burke 6/12/12

Radio host Pat Kenny at the RTE Radio studios yesterday morning.Pic Tom Burke 6/12/12

Radio host Pat Kenny at the RTE Radio studios yesterday morning.Pic Tom Burke 6/12/12

RTE Director General Noel Curran has revealed none of the station's star presenters will earn more than €500,000 after its latest round of cutbacks.

The hard bargaining on contracts for its 'Top 10' pool of talent means current affairs star Pat Kenny – who is facing negotiations this year – looks likely to lose more than €100,000 off his pay packet.

Admitting the monies paid to some of the country's best-known presenters in the boom years were "over-inflated", Mr Curran said when the latest round of negotiations was completed, there wouldn't be "anyone earning over half-a-million".

At the Dail's Communications Committee, Fine Gael's Patrick O'Donovan queried whether some of the higher-paid talent might still be commanding too much.

Without "justifying the fees", Mr Curran stressed that the value of the RTE presenters must be taken into account, pointing out the audiences some of the stars commanded.

Figures from RTE show that 'Prime Time' and radio presenter Pat Kenny's salary dropped from €950,976 in 2008 to €630,000 in 2011.

'Late Late Show' host Ryan Tubridy topped the table with a salary of €723,500 in 2011. Yet, he has already agreed to a 32pc cut, with his fee dropping to €495,000.

RTE, which receives around €180m a year from the licence fees money and commercial revenue, revealed it was on course to record a €60m deficit this year.

Salaries for contract staff will have fallen by 40pc by the time negotiations are finished, from the boomtime years, RTE said.

Breda O'Keeffe, acting chief financial officer, said the average pay for the top 10 would be closer to €280,000 by the end of this year compared with €444,000 in 2008.

COSTS

The committee heard RTE had undergone a complete restructuring, shedding 500 staff and reducing its operating costs by €104m since 2008.

Amid government signals that a new broadcasting charge is on the way to replace the TV licence, committee chair Tom Hayes said the independent broadcasters had already made their case for a bigger slice of the monies.

Mr Curran warned there was a danger the new media charge would be seen as a "panacea" for the ills in the broadcasting industry.

He said a report by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland was expected to be delivered to the Communications Minister in the next few days. Mr Curran said the minister had "made it clear" he did not see RTE receiving an increase in the licence fee monies.

Asked by Labour's Ann Phelan about the closure of the London bureau, Kevin Bakhurst, managing director RTE News and Current Affairs, said they would not have been able to keep its regional operations open here if it had continued to operate the UK base. Mr Bakhurst revealed plans to close regional offices in favour of operating out of institutes of technology would get under way shortly with a move to Dundalk IT, followed by Athlone and Waterford.

Irish Independent