Sunday 15 December 2019

Pandering pundits

• RTE show a coyness unbecoming of them in their refusal to tell the licence payer exactly how much they pay their sports pundits.

Recently Ryle Nugent, head of sport in RTE, refused to divulge to me how much the 'Sunday Game' pundits earned. He cited confidentiality, and in a response to a friend of mine, he offered that RTE would be giving away a commercial advantage to other rivals.

RTE have the monopoly as regards sports and cash. They are funded via the licence and advertising. They essentially are the only show in town and hence pay most.

Mr Nugent told the Irish Independent that the "pundits were the cornerstones of their sports programmes". And there I was thinking it was the actual events like the GAA matches, the soccer, the players, the managers, the officials. No, in RTE, it's the pundits that are the cornerstones of sports programmes.

So who are these "cornerstones"? Well they seem to be around as long as Uncle Gaybo was in RTE. In GAA it's Michael Lyster and his merry band of Brolly, O'Rourke and Spillane with Davis as sub. In soccer it's O'Herlihy with "stars" from the 1960/70s in Giles, Dunphy and Brady. Rugby has Big Tom with the ubiquitous Pope and Hook sideshow.

No new blood, no challengers to the "cornerstones" above. Which indicates that they are on nice little earners. And good luck to them, save for one fly in the ointment. When you step on the toes of the followers such as me, then expect to give us the right to also criticise and to know how much they earn.

It's very easy to toss stones from the safety of the studio in the glass menagerie that is RTE knowing full well that those criticised don't get the chance to strike back.

John Cuffe
Dunboyne, Co Meath

Irish Independent

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