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€3,226 hospitality bill for last year's Toy Show was double that of 2016

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Ryan Tubridy host Toy Show. Photo: Andres Poveda

Ryan Tubridy host Toy Show. Photo: Andres Poveda

Ryan Tubridy host Toy Show. Photo: Andres Poveda

Cash-strapped RTE doubled its spending on the Late Late Toy Show between 2016 and 2017, the Herald can reveal.

The show is one of the most important events in the national broadcaster's calendar, regularly coming in as the most-watched TV programme of the year.

With the special episode often having well-known guests and treats for the audience, keeping them happy doesn't come cheap.

In figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, RTE revealed it spent €424 on green room hospitality for the show in 2016.

This included sandwiches, finger food, tea and coffee, beer, wine, spirits, soft drinks and still and sparkling water.

The bill for audience hospitality was significantly higher, at €1,157. This went towards wine, soft drinks and still and sparkling water.

RTE managed to avoid all travel costs, however, and nothing was spent on taking guests to or from the studio, making the bill for that show €1,581, not including production costs.

In 2017, RTE managed to cut costs for both green room and audience hospitality, which came in at €367 and €1,021 respectively.

However, it had to fork out €1,838 on guest travel for that episode, taking the total bill for the 2017 show to €3,226 - twice that of 2016.

Sensitive

RTE refused to say what the production costs for an episode of the Late Late Toy Show were.

"RTE considers the overall cost of an individual programme in a series to be commercially sensitive and so should not be disclosed," it said.

It noted that, under the act, public bodies are permitted to withhold information which contains "trade secrets" or "financial, commercial or other information, the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to result in a material financial loss to the person to whom the information relates or could prejudice the competitive position of that person in the conduct of his or her profession or business".

RTE went on to note that if it released the production costs "it would allow for a very detailed analysis of the cost of producing every programme" and would "allow the calculation of guest fees".

This would in turn allow rival media organisations to work out how much it had to spend to create a rival programme.

TV3, now Virgin Media Television, previously aired its own toy show in previous years.

It was first hosted by Alan Hughes in 2013 with subsequent hosts including Karen Koster and Brian McFadden and Maria Walsh and Lucy Kennedy.

It has not aired since 2016, when it was billed as a "teaser" to the Late Late Toy Show that year.


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