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Mirror, mirror on the wall ...

RTE stars have never had a poor opinion of their own talents, or disdain for the rewards these talents earn.

We saw that not long ago when some of them were so reluctant to accept pay cuts at a time of unique crisis for the station and the country.

Now we can chuckle over an incident from long ago, the early 1990s, which would seem to shed some light on how they view themselves and one another.

It comes from a history of RTE Television by the hugely respected John Bowman.

He quotes the comments of the chief executive, Vincent Finn, when Pat Kenny sought a pay rise. "In many ways," Mr Finn told the RTE Authority, "he believes he is better than Gay Byrne."

Mr Kenny has no recollection of the incident. Mr Byrne says he never thought Mr Kenny had such feelings.

End of story? Hardly. It will be remembered when questions of pay arise again (in the year in question, Mr Kenny earned IR£550,000). It will be remembered again and again in the context of 'Late Late Show' viewing figures.

The RTE management sighs for the good old days when there was no competition.

Yet even then, without any standards of comparison, RTE paid enormous salaries.

To the best, of course -- and the second best.

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