Pat Kenny: I’m working a lot harder for a lot less now
- RTE star insists: 'I've done my bit'
- And wife Kathy defends his salary
Pat Kenny and his wife last night broke their silence to defend his position as the highest paid star in RTE -- and claimed he is now working harder than ever.
But the 61-year-old star of TV and radio insisted he would never "put a gun to RTE's head" and accepted that, regardless of any negotiations, his and other presenters' fees would inevitably drop further.
Figures released last Friday reveal he was paid €729,604 in 2009 by the state broadcaster, down €221,372, or 23pc, on 2008 when his fees were €950,976.
"I've done my bit as you can see from the comparison but this is part of a process.
"There is only one way these are going and it's down," Mr Kenny told the Irish Independent about presenters' fees at the station.
Since leaving RTE's flagship programme 'The Late Late Show' in the summer of 2009, Mr Kenny said his workload had increased as host of RTE's 'Frontline' debate programme, as well as presenting the 'Today' programme on RTE Radio 1.
"In spite of these changes, I now work harder than I have ever before. People see what I do. My work is all in the public domain," he said.
Mr Kenny's wife Kathy also spoke to defend her husband.
"During the elections, everybody said to me: 'Is he (Mr Kenny) the only one working in RTE at all? You must never see him,'" she told the Irish Independent.
However, Mr Kenny, who renegotiates his contract with the station next year, declined to comment when he was asked if he was willing to take more cuts.
"I am not going to answer. I have never in my life given a negotiation position before negotiations started. I would never do that. It's foolish to ask me to set out a position before any negotiations take place but I would never put any gun to RTE's head.
"In terms of anything that we've agreed. It's always been a mutually satisfactory negotiation. They were always happy with the outcome, and so was I," he said.
As RTE's best-paid presenter in 2009, Mr Kenny said he sympathised with other less well-paid RTE stars, who agent Noel Kenny claimed at the weekend were unable to pay their mortgages and struggling with bills because their contracts were not being renewed.
"You never know what financial decisions people made during the good times, if you look at Tony Fenton. . ." he said.
Mr Fenton, a DJ at Today FM, was declared bankrupt at the High Court last week over his failure to pay tax debts amounting to almost €880,000. He had spoken of how he invested in the property market to safeguard his future, only to lose everything in the crash.
Mr Kenny was speaking yesterday after RTE released details of the fees paid to top talent in 2009 last Friday.
The former 'Late Late Show' host returned a day early from a holiday with his family in Portugal to open a new exhibition 'The Saturday Road' by artist Linda Graham at the Origin Gallery in Dublin.
"This is the fifth exhibition Pat has opened for me," said the 55-year-old artist, who is battling multiple sclerosis.
"We met when he interviewed me on 'The Late Late Show' five years ago. He has been offering me his support ever since," Ms Graham said.
The next highest RTE earner in the 2009 figures was the late Gerry Ryan, who earned €585,944. 'Late Late Show' host Ryan Tubridy was in third place with €519,667; Marian Finucane earned fees of €513,270; RTE's 'Liveline' presenter Joe Duffy earned €389,314; Miriam O'Callaghan got €290,625; Derek Mooney €268,985 and Eamon Dunphy took home €225,485.
Sean O'Rourke earned €214,084 in 2009 and 2fm presenter Colm Hayes, the 10th best paid presenter who joined the station from FM104 in 2007, earned €213,954 in 2009.
Last month RTE director general Noel Curran said the station's best-known faces would have to take a 30pc pay cut on their 2008 fees by 2013, as their contracts come up for renewal.