Friday 23 February 2018

TD urges licence fee cut over RTÉ silence on pay

Fine Gael deputy Patrick O'Donovan
Fine Gael deputy Patrick O'Donovan
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

A memeber of the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee has called for a €60 cut in the television licence fee after RTÉ refused to divulge details of the salaries and expenses paid to its top earners.

Fine Gael TD Patrick O'Donovan has criticised the national broadcaster over its pay policy and said the public is entitled to know the exact salaries and expenses paid to RTÉ presenters.

RTÉ only releases details of the earnings of staff and contractors every two years, despite being heavily funded by the taxpayer.

Mr O'Donovan, a TD for Limerick, lodged an appeal with RTÉ after the station only provided figures relating to fees paid in 2013, following a Freedom of Information request.

The appeal was rejected.

RTÉ said two presenters are paid between €400,000 and €500,000 per annum, while one is paid between €300,000 and €400,000.

Five RTÉ staff members earn between €200,000 and €250,000.

No staff member earns above this level, the broadcaster said.

Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Mr O'Donovan said it was completely unacceptable for the station to "withhold" salary details relating to 2015.

"The public has a right to expect full transparency from all elements of the public service," he said.

"Why should there be an exception for RTÉ, given the level of subsidy provided by hard-working families?" he asked.

"The current system of public service broadcasting is antiquated and totally out-of-date. It is in dire need of being dragged into the 21st century," he added.

However, RTÉ said it had made significant reductions in the fees paid out.

"With regards to top presenters, as stated a number of times, RTÉ has reduced its top-talent fees by in excess of 30pc since 2008.

"This has been achieved as part of an overall reduction in its operating costs by almost €130m over the same period," a spokesman said.

"RTÉ recently reported a break-even figure for the second year in a row.

"The independent New Era Review, commissioned by Government and published earlier this year, concluded that RTÉ is one of the most efficiently run public-service broadcasters in Europe.

"It also concluded that Ireland has one the lowest licence fees in Europe," added the spokesman.

Irish Independent

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