RTE's top stars were left reeling today with the news their six-figure pay is to be slashed by another 30pc.
The ailing State broadcaster stunned employees by announcing a new round of savage cutbacks and redundancies.
A very senior management source today told the Herald that the embattled station is on the verge of "running out of cash".
The announcement came just days before a report is to be published on how the station wrongly accused a priest of fathering a child. Insiders said the report will be devastating for RTE and may even result in severe sanction for some staff.
Presenters like Ryan Tubridy and Marian Finucane all face huge cuts to their large salaries.
And RTE's London editor Brian O'Connell faces the prospect of returning to Dublin as the station shuts its UK office.
It is believed all areas of spending are "on the table" with RTE managers under intense pressure to "cut the fat" out of the organisation.
"Pressure is immense. The money just isn't there. We are running out of cash," a senior source said.
This is not an easy day, but we realise that we cannot whinge anymore,” the source added.
“We are under pressure to make the necessary savings and we will be trying to cut fat out of the organisation which will be difficult as every area has been hit already.
“You have to take drastic action when you have a €17m deficit.”
RTE is to forge ahead with swingeing cuts in a bid to save the struggling station a staggering €25m by the end of the year.
Ordinary employees are now bracing themselves to see posts axed, with management seeking to save €15m in staff costs over the next two years.
The Herald has learned that the cost-saving measures are part of an ambitious bid by station management to “break even” by the end of 2013.
However, some top stars have today reacted with fury that their wages are set to be cut.
One presenter, who asked not to be named, angrily claimed that there is more staff in management than production.
“There will be savings across the board. Everyone will feel it I would imagine.
“I know the more high-profile presenters are being put under the spotlight with cuts, but they will be everywhere.”
The source added: “The present director general has to face reality and I have no doubt that everyone will feel the cold wind.
“I'm surprised more didn't go in the last round of voluntary redundancies because pay levels are falling. Maybe they will go now,” said the source.
“There are sacred cows within the organisation too. Like if you look at TG4 it has a totally separate tier of management. TG4 will be protected but the Champion's League might not be.”
Director General Noel Curran has admitted that “difficult changes” must be made at Montrose, describing the situation as “not sustainable”.
RTE now aims to cut 250 jobs as part of a range of swingeing cuts. And station sources told the Herald that every area is now on the table, adding: “We can't rule anything out.”
Details of another voluntary-severance scheme – the second in under a year – will be communicated to staff over the next few months.
And the station is set to cut its London bureau as well as making significant cuts to budgets for sport and foreign shows.
The decision to close the London office was met with angst by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) today.
Having already slashed the salaries paid to its top 10 presenters by 30pc, the station confirmed that the cut will now be applied to its next highest paid group of 10 staff members.
“We have preserved our programme output and services to the maximum since our revenues declined in 2007 and we will continue to do so.
“But changes in output cannot be avoided,” Mr Curran said.
“We have made it clear our plan for targeted reductions in top talent fees by the end of 2013.”
“I can confirm that we are on target for in excess of a 30pc reduction r
elative to the 2008 figures,” Mr Curran added.
Bosses today arrived at RTE’s Donnybrook headquarters to begin talks to avert a full blown financial crisis, the Herald has learned.