Thursday 17 October 2019

John Boland: RTÉ not seizing opportunities to be more equal

With only three women featuring in RTÉ’s top 10, it’s hard not to be sceptical of its claim that as an 'equal opportunities employer' it 'takes its obligations very seriously'.
With only three women featuring in RTÉ’s top 10, it’s hard not to be sceptical of its claim that as an 'equal opportunities employer' it 'takes its obligations very seriously'.

John Boland

The best-paid 10 at RTÉ are now getting 34pc less than they were nine years ago. That's the good news. The bad news is they're still making astronomical amounts.

There was outrage recently when the BBC released the salaries of its highest-earning stars, and certainly some of the figures were daft - Chris Evans, for instance, pocketing £2.2m (€2.4m) a year, despite the fact that his brief reign at 'Top Gear' was a ratings calamity; and Gary Lineker getting £1.8m (€2m)for his bland hosting of 'Match of the Day'.

But unlike RTÉ, the Beeb can argue that at least it caters for a huge audience, and thus pays accordingly. So what's the excuse of Montrose, with its relatively teensy audience, for paying Ryan Tubridy €495,000 or Ray D'Arcy €400,000?

These figures are for 2015, and among the top 10 are four presenters who didn't make the cut a year earlier. So what suddenly propelled D'Arcy, Claire Byrne, Nicky Byrne and Darragh Maloney into the top 10?

In terms of gender equality, RTÉ does somewhat better than the BBC, where no women featured in the seven highest-earners and where the highest-paid woman (Claudia Winkleman) earned less than a quarter of the highest paid male.

Still, with only three women featuring in RTÉ's top 10, it's hard not to be sceptical of its claim that as an "equal opportunities employer" it "takes its obligations very seriously".

If that's the case, why aren't there far more women presenters on RTÉ Radio 1, a station that's dominated by men and has been for decades - indeed, mostly the same men?

Indeed, where's the equal opportunity in newscaster Bryan Dobson making the top 10 (at €196,000 a year), while colleague Sharon Ní Bheoláin makes a lot less?

But it's not just Ní Bheoláin. Also missing from the list are Eileen Dunne and Una O'Hagan, two outstanding broadcasters who deliver the news with no mannerism or fuss.

Perhaps Eimear Cusack, RTÉ's new director of human resources, can do something about these glaring anomalies.

Diverse

RTÉ director general Dee Forbes says Ms Cusack has initiated a review of gender equality in Montrose and that she herself will be looking at greater "representational equality" when it comes to studio discussion panels.

That's all to the good. For starters, how about a few women pundits on soccer, rugby and GAA games?

And in this supposedly multi-cultural Ireland, how about a few ethnically diverse presenters? The BBC has done well in that regard.

On the general question of pay, the solution is simple: give all top RTÉ presenters €100,000 a year, which is good money by anyone's standards.

I've proposed this before, but no one seems to be paying any heed.

Maybe I should talk to Joe about it.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss