RTE presenters are living in a 'cocoon', say rival frontmen
BROADCASTER Joe Duffy has compared the campaign to cut the salaries of RTE's best-paid presenters to a "witch-hunt".
His comments came as TV3 presenters Mark Cagney and Aidan Cooney said their RTE counterparts lived in a "cocoon" and could not earn similar sums at a commercial station.
Mr Duffy -- who earns in the region of €285,000 -- said it was unfair to target him or his RTE colleagues for the nation's woes.
And he stressed that top earners -- including Pat Kenny or Marian Finucane -- did not defraud or "spoof" people about the state of the world.
The 'Liveline' presenter also launched a broadside against presenter Eamon Dunphy, saying that his show attracted more listeners in a week than Mr Dunphy brought in a total year for Newstalk.
Separately, two of TV3's best-known faces joined the debate about fees paid to RTE's star presenters, claiming they could never command similar fees in the private sector.
'Ireland AM' presenters Mr Cagney and Mr Cooney both agreed that there was little chance of the top earners acting on RTE director-general Noel Curran's stark warning to take a pay cut or go elsewhere.
"No one would pay them that kind of money in the commercial world. I know damn well they (commercial broadcasters) couldn't. So where are they going to go? It's not the real world, but RTE is not the real world generally. It's a semi-state body," Mr Cagney told the Irish Independent.
Mr Cooney particularly criticised RTE weekend presenter Ms Finucane, who was paid €570,000 in 2008.
"When you see Marian getting €570,000 for going in there to do a job, which is essentially fun, and she preaches about how 'I earn my money'. Where is that comparable to? Hollywood? If RTE decides to cut her money. . . where is she going to get similar money? Nowhere. They live in a cocoon."
As a private company, TV3 does not reveal the salaries paid to its own presenters.
But Mr Duffy said commercial stations, such as Newstalk, paid more when their listenership figures were compared to those tuning into RTE.
In an interview on Limerick's Live 95FM yesterday, Mr Duffy said: "Eamon Dunphy revealed he was being paid €100,000 for 40 programmes from Newstalk that had an audience of 60,000 per programme.
"I bring in more people listening to RTE in a week than Eamon Dunphy brings in in the year for Newstalk."
Mr Duffy, who took an extra 30pc pay cut last month, said: "There was a decision to target five or six people. It turned into a witch-hunt in RTE."
He added: "I run a programme that has 400,000 listeners a day that generates income for RTE. It is a relatively cheap programme that brings in two million listeners a week."
"That is the way RTE decide -- at the minute -- the monthly fee they are paying me is good value for the income I generate for the station."