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Senator proposes law to link salaries of RTÉ presenters to public sector pay scale

The move comes as RTÉ faces unprecedented financial difficulties.

Ryan Tubridy is RTÉ's highest earner, according to the most recent salary figures.
Ryan Tubridy is RTÉ's highest earner, according to the most recent salary figures.
Image: Leah Farrell

INDEPENDENT SENATOR RONAN Mullen plans to introduce legislation which would link the salaries of RTÉ’s top presenters to public sector pay scales.

The senator from east Galway says the move is an effort to curb the pay of “excessive salaries” to top broadcasters. It would also apply to producers and researchers who work in public service organisations.

The move comes as RTÉ faces unprecedented financial difficulties. In a recent letter to staff, RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes said that the broadcaster is “reassessing everything it does” and the ”crisis in the funding of public service media will continue”.

The most recent salary figures from RTÉ show that the company’s top 10 earners collectively took in just under €3 million in fees in 2016. Late Late Show presenter and radio host Ryan Tubridy had the highest pay, earning €495,000 in 2016, the same amount as in 2015.

Senator Mullen said it had never been established what “indispensable services” individuals who are paid €300,000 or €400,000 a year provide to the national broadcaster.

“This move will not necessarily threaten the quality of RTÉ’s service or diminish its pool of talent,” he said.

It does not ever seem to occur to RTÉ bosses or Government policymakers that fame on the airwaves already brings the advantage of being able to charge large speaking or corporate appearance fees on top of salaries.

The Office of Parliamentary Legal Advisers has been asked to analyse the constitutional, policy and legislative dimensions of Senator Mullen’s proposal.

He also said he expects to receive cross-party support for his legislation when it is introduced in the Seanad. 

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Ceimin Burke

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