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RTÉ forks out €9.5m over three years on fees for top 10 earners as TDs say 'wages hard to justify'



Claire Byrne ranks seventh on the list of the broadcaster’s top earners

Claire Byrne ranks seventh on the list of the broadcaster’s top earners

Claire Byrne ranks seventh on the list of the broadcaster’s top earners

Ryan Tubridy has topped the list of RTÉ's top earners, as the 10 highest-paid stars at the broadcaster shared almost €9.5m over the past three years.

The public spotlight is once again on RTÉ's finances after it published its list of top earners for 2017, 2018 and 2019.

The last time it released this information was in December 2018 and it only covered up to the year ending 2016.

It reveals that RTÉ Radio 1 presenters Ryan Tubridy, Ray D'Arcy and Joe Duffy have remained the top three highest-earning presenters at the broadcaster for the time period covered.

Most of those named on its best-paid list are contractors - whose services are hired out by RTÉ - and the figure listed does not include VAT.

They must file their own tax returns and make their own pension contributions, while RTÉ employees are paid salaries and related benefits.


The latest list comes in the wake of reports that emerged last week that the national broadcaster had made a net loss of €7.2m in 2019.

Earning annual fees of €495,000 for The Late Late Show and his morning radio programme, Tubridy has maintained his top spot on the list since 2014.

From 2017-2019, Ray D'Arcy's annual earnings for presenting his radio and TV show came to €450,000, while in third position is Liveline anchor Joe Duffy.

In 2019, his fees came to €392,494, a slight drop on the previous year when it was listed as nearly €405,000.

In fourth position, and previously the best-paid female broadcaster until her sudden passing last January, was Marian Finucane, whose fees were just over €358,000 in 2019.

Sean O'Rourke, who retired in May of 2020, was fifth on the list with his earnings of €327,988.

Number six on the list is Prime Time anchor and RTÉ Radio 1 weekend presenter Miriam O'Callaghan, who earned €320,000 in 2019 and a similar figure in 2018.

Sean O'Rourke's replacement, Claire Byrne, is number seven on the list and her salary was the same for 2019 and 2018, standing at €250,000.

RTÉ has not released its best-paid presenter list for 2020, with Byrne having taken over the weekday mid-morning slot on Radio 1 last September - so it is not known how her fees compare now with those that were paid to O'Rourke.

Journalist and broadcaster Brendan O'Connor came in as a new entrant at number eight, according to the figures for 2018 and 2019. His fees came to €240,000 in 2019 and €220,000 the previous year for his radio and TV work.

Bryan Dobson was number nine on the list in 2018 and 2019, earning just over €209,000, while in 10th position is Radio 1's Mary Wilson, who was a new entrant in 2019, earning just over €196,000.

Commenting on the release, RTÉ said fees paid to its top 10 presenters represent less than 1pc of its overall operating costs and RTÉ say salaries are under "constant review."

Meanwhile, news of the salary disclosures angered TDs on the Dáil's media committee. Sinn Féin's Imelda Munster said the public would be rightly sickened to read of such salaries when hundreds of thousands were out of work and on welfare.


"You can't justify such huge salaries, year-in and year-out, and on this scale," she said.

It is very hard to take RTÉ seriously when they come pleading poverty and looking for funding when they are paying these outrageous amounts and failing to get their own house in order."

Another member of the committee, Independent TD Mattie McGrath, said it was "distastefully sly of RTÉ… to have purposefully published the extraordinary high salaries during the primetime coverage of the US presidential inauguration.

In relation to publishing the figures on inauguration day, RTÉ said in a statement that "on any given day there are very significant news events" and it had "committed to publishing details in January 2021".