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RTÉ can save jobs by slashing pay of top presenters - and playing to its strengths

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‘Late, Late Show’ host Ryan Tubridy is RTÉ’s best-paid presenter and commands annual fees of €495,000 for his services.

‘Late, Late Show’ host Ryan Tubridy is RTÉ’s best-paid presenter and commands annual fees of €495,000 for his services.

‘Late, Late Show’ host Ryan Tubridy is RTÉ’s best-paid presenter and commands annual fees of €495,000 for his services.

With cash-strapped RTÉ announcing that it's being forced to shed 200 or more jobs, here's how to save more than 30 of them.

Give the 10 highest-paid presenters - who between them pocket more than €2.5m a year - €100,000 each instead, which by most people's reckoning is a very good annual salary.

Immediately you've got €1.5m in the kitty to retain at least 30 employees on their less starry incomes of €50,000 a year.

Heck, let's be generous and give each of these supposed celebrities €150,000 a year, a sum probably more suited to their lofty status. That still saves more than 20 jobs in the less exalted departments of Montrose.

No doubt there'd be protests from the 10 in question.

Ryan Tubridy, who's on an annual RTÉ salary of almost €500,000 according to the latest available figures, wouldn't be too happy, and nor would people's champion Joe Duffy (who is on over €400,000), weekend broadcaster Marian Finucane (almost €300,000) or Miriam O'Callaghan (also almost €300,000). But what are they going to do - defect to TV3?

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Click to view full size graphic

Click to view full size graphic

Click to view full size graphic

And there are other obvious cost-cutting measures available to our national broadcaster, not least the annual spending orgy otherwise known as the Eurovision Song Contest.

Yes, I know it's part of what we are, or at least were, because we haven't won it in decades and it's always been rubbish anyway, made even more so in recent years by ludicrously partisan voting tactics.

So why waste any more of taxpayer's hard-earned money on it?

Axing our participation in it would mean the retention of quite a few more RTÉ jobs.

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Miriam O'Callaghan. Photo: Collins

Miriam O'Callaghan. Photo: Collins

Miriam O'Callaghan. Photo: Collins

Speaking of the taxpayer, RTÉ's current director general Dee Forbes thinks that the €160 annual licence fee is "incredible value for money".

She even raised the idea that it might be double that, before deciding that mightn't be too popular an idea among said taxpayers.

Forty cent a day, she pointed out, is the actual amount being asked, which is a mere pittance, or would be if there was anything worth watching on RTÉ.

Most nights though, there isn't, especially on RTÉ2, whose basic purpose in life remains unclear, except perhaps to devotees of wretched homegrown comedy, vacuous celeb-driven documentaries and imported soaps.

Now that would be a real saving, while the few things that RTÉ2 actually does well, mainly soccer and rugby coverage, could easily be transferred to RTÉ One, thus sparing us the lifestyle dross that dominates the main channel for most of the week.

Indeed, in an era when alternative formats and choices have caused viewership to fragment alarmingly, perhaps it's finally time for RTÉ to accept that it's not and never will be an international player and that instead it should content itself with being a genuinely interesting niche broadcaster, focusing on the things it has always done impressively.

These things don't include drama (its record there has been mostly lamentable) or comedy (ditto), while its slavish adoption of foreign entertainment formats has mainly seemed pointless.

'Dancing with the Stars' has been well executed, but couldn't we have lived without it?

No, RTÉ's strength, both on television and radio, has always resided in news, current affairs and documentaries - and in the arts, too, though RTÉ television has largely abandoned the arts profiles that used to be an outstanding feature of its programming.

So why not focus most of its energies and talents on these proven areas of expertise and excellence and stop wasting money and resources on silly lifestyle and other reality shows that mean nothing to most of its long-suffering audience?

Irish Independent