We're paid peanuts compared to soccer stars, says Pat Kenny
Top RTE broadcaster Pat Kenny has described the salaries of the station's broadcast stars as "trivial" compared to those paid to footballers.
In an interview with this newspaper, Mr Kenny, who returns to host The Frontline later this month, said that he and his fellow stars were victims of a continuing double standard in the debate over the level of their salaries, which are paid out of licence-fee money.
Kenny, who was paid €950,956 in 2008 and €630,000 last year, rejects the notion that his and other stars' salaries were a result of Celtic Tiger excess.
"Well, I always smile to myself about the salaries issue. Back in the Eighties, Gaybo was earning in real terms more than everyone is earning in RTE now. So the idea that these are on Celtic Tiger rates of pay is not really true."
He said that RTE had to "incentivise" its stars.
"I often wonder why there isn't the same fuss over the salaries paid to footballers like John O'Shea, earning more in three weeks than Marian Finucane earns in a year.
"There is a double standard there. These people put themselves on the line, they entertain the nation week in, week out, and yet they are paid a trivial amount compared to footballers."
Kenny's comments come two weeks after Clare Duignan, the RTE head of radio, said that the boom years for salaries were over and that stars would have to accept the changed times. Responding to her comments, Kenny added that all stars, himself included, had taken a hit and he accepted that the next round of contract negotiations would mean further cuts.
"We all took a hit, I am back to 2002 pay levels. I'm not sure if anyone else is down to 2002. The big news last year was that we all took a hit and that continues. There is no doubt the negotiating discussions next time round will be very different."
Kenny also denied criticising his Late Late Show successor Ryan Tubridy in the wake of critical comments by Today FM DJ Ian Dempsey.
He explained: "I texted Ryan to say don't read the headline, read the text.
"My view of Ryan, and a lot of people were saying, was that nobody really knows how good The Tubridy Show on radio was because it was sandwiched between Morning Ireland, a big rater, and the PK show, also a big rater with listeners. So you don't know."
He added: "And he's now given an opportunity to step into Gerry Ryan's shoes -- a big opportunity but it is a very exposed position for Ryan. I think he is grabbing it with both hands. I don't hear it so I can't pass judgement on it. It may take some years for it to work."