How do RTE’s Top Earners Manage to Survive?

by John Boland

Irish Independent, March 28, 2013

Spare a thought for Marian Finucane. She’s on air for an arduous two hours on Saturday mornings and then for an equally gruelling two hours on Sunday mornings, and RTE expects her to survive on a trifling €295,000 a year.

Break that down and the figures are even more stark. Allowing for the summer and winter holidays she needs in order to recover from her exhausting workload, she’s in the weekend Radio 1 studio for about 40 weeks of the year. That’s 160 hours of annual broadcasting at the derisory rate of under €2,000 an hour. Even Premiership footballers get to earn more than that!

Why she puts up with this ludicrous situation beats me, especially when a mere four years ago she was earning almost €4,000 an hour – or over €550,000 in annual terms. But she obviously does put up with it, because when RTE yesterday revealed that it’s slashed her salary by 48 per cent, it noted that this is her “agreed fee” from now on.

However, financially she’s only in fourth place among the ten RTE personalities who are highlighted by our national broadcaster as incurring swingeing pay cuts. Second from the top is Ryan Tubridy, now reduced by a savage 32 per cent to a pittance of €495,000 a year – and bear in mind that this is a man who, on the nation’s behalf, has to endure the drivel uttered by all the boy bands and wannabe celebs who force their way onto The Late Late Show.

But he’s well off compared to his Saturday counterpart, Brendan O’Connor, who’s at the mercy of even tackier and more witless publicity-seekers and only gets a laughable €158,000 for his pains – down 31 per cent from his previous remuneration.

Surprisingly, the third highest earner is not Miriam O’Callaghan (who’s “agreed” to an insultingly low €211,167) but Joe Duffy, down by 27 per cent to a footling €300,000. Yet if Joe had an ounce of business sense, he could negotiate a much better deal with the Government – certainly if I were Enda Kenny I’d reward Joe with at least a cool million for the way in which he gets Liveline callers to exhaust their political anger on his show, thus preventing rioting in the streets.

A couple of the highlighted ten came as a complete surprise. Maybe it’s just that 2FM’s DJ Colm Hayes has never really registered on my listening radar, but I was certainly startled to discover him high up on the RTE list, with his salary dropped by 21 per cent to a belttightening €170,000.

But poor old Eamon Dunphy has taken the biggest hit, down by a massive 67 per cent to a low of €106,000 – and this indignity meted out to someone who’s added considerably to the gaiety of the nation for more than two decades. Lucky for him he’s got a couple of other outlets or else the Vincent de Paul would be knocking on his door.

In general terms, the RTE statement reveals that in 2008 the national broadcaster had being paying a total of €4.45 million a year to its top ten earners, but that now they’ll only be receiving a total of €3 million, the poor lambs.

Of these, the top earner has long been Pat KennySo who are the other two? Derek Mooney, perhaps, or Sean O’Rourke, or Bryan Dobson, or Ronan Collins, though surely the best paid RTE presenter has to be Pat Kenny, who isn’t mentioned anywhere in the press release. Well, he deserves to top the list, anyway, even if RTE salaries to its top names are too daft for words..

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