RTE still facing massive losses -- but it's not down to the Dragons
RTE is facing accumulated losses of €50m this year -- but they certainly can't blame it on the Dragons.
The relentless five behind Dragon's Den -- Bobby Kerr, Norah Casey, Gavin Duffy, Sean O'Sullivan and Niall O'Farrell -- are paid a pittance of €5,000 a series for appearing on the hit show and investing their own money.
And according to RTE sources, the fee is mainly to tie them to future broadcasting rights like Sky Living, from which they don't get any fees.
Bank of Ireland, which is 15 per cent owned by the State, spends €400,000 to sponsor the hit TV series Dragon's Den, according to sources close to the television station.
The show, which takes three weeks to shoot, ended last Sunday but it has been such a big audience puller for the cash-strapped station that they are doing two additional shows of Dragon's Den On Tour, going back over previous entrants to the Den.
Among those featured will be the amazing story of Katie Hyde, whose €8,000 online company Henparty.ie has turned into a €1m-plus business, after she teamed up with a Dragon to grow the idea.
But for all their business savvy, it has emerged that while RTE director-general Noel Curren is looking to cut the massive salaries of the station's top 10 presenters, the Dragons only get a small stipend and the people who pitch for investments get nothing -- so much so that one of them recently claimed he had to borrow the money for petrol to get to Dublin.
In comparison, it is believed in the entertainment world that Kian Egan -- the Westlife singer who is a judge on The Voice of Ireland -- is taking home a tidy €80,000 in fees for his part in the show.
Over on TV3, Bill Cullen is on an estimated €100,000 for his role as presenter of the successful reality television show The Apprentice .
Financial sources estimate that Dragon's Den, which is watched by an audience of over half a million viewers and is raking in the advertising cash for hard-pressed RTE, costs approximately €38,000 an hour to make, when the Bank of Ireland sponsorship of the series is included.
In comparison, the drama Love/Hate, starring Aidan Gillen and Ruth Bradley, which occupied the same slot before the current series of Dragon's Den costs €350,000 an hour to make -- although television experts concede that drama is the most expensive TV programming to make.
Meanwhile, it has also emerged that RTE spent a staggering €184,000 on its disastrous Mission to Prey programme fronted by Aoife Kavanagh. Included in the cost was €60,000 in flights and €22,000 in salaries. Last year's series of the axed Prime Time Investigates cost €671,000.
The hard-pressed station spent in excess of €3.4m on coverage of US President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II's visits to Ireland last year.