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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
Alamy Stock Photo RTE spent nearly €5,000 on Havaianas flip flops.

RTÉ barter account spent €5,000 on flip flops and €4,200 to private members' club in London

The details are contained in a new trawl of documents released ahead of RTE’s appearance before a Dáil committee today.

NEWLY RELEASED SPREADSHEETS for the RTÉ barter accounts reveal thousands of euro spent on luxury priced goods like flip flops, a private members’ club in London and complimentary tickets for corporate boxes at sold out concerts. 

The information was contained in trawl of documents released this morning ahead of RTÉ’s appearance before the Oireachtas Media Committee today.

The spreadsheets reveal hotel stays at luxury hotels such as those owned by the Waldorf Astoria group and the Marylebone in London. 

RTÉ has said that it spent €1.6 million on client entertainment and corporate hospitality over the last 10 years, most of which appears to have been run through an account known as Astus.

This was an account based in the UK and it is the same used to make payments to Ryan Tubridy via his agent, which have embroiled the national broadcaster in two weeks of controversy.

There are a numbers of entries listed as cash out which all run into the tens of thousands of euro. 

One of the Waldorf Astoria hotel expenses in 2015 was in Edinburgh for a Six Nations event – it cost more than €5,000

Another expense was a €5,000 cost for 200 pairs of Havainas flip flops for a summer party for corporate clients in 2016.

Hotel stays feature a lot with hotel spend across the multiple countries in multiple location. One stay in New York for a night cost €466.

The Soho House private members’ club in London cost the station €4,200. There was more than €4,500 spent on alcohol alone for one event.

Another €9,000 was spent for Aviva Stadium hospitality boxes for Harry Styles, Westlife and The Eagles.

An Ed Sheeran gig at Croke Park cost the station more than €13,700 for hospitality for “clients and agencies”, while a Bruce Springsteen concert event, listed as “agency event” cost the station €12,188.

There was €3,681 spent on an executive board meeting, which never happened as it was cancelled. Almost €6,000 was spent on accommodation for an executive board meeting at Druids Glen.

In 2021, there was what was labelled as a “thank you” lunch that cost €2,499 for a client who had provided €20 million worth of advertising revenue.

In the same year RTÉ also spent €2,538 on a Christmas lunch for staff and clients. There was €2,615 spent on a “media golf outing” in 2022.

A further €21,000 was spent by the state broadcaster on an agency and client summer party at Teelings Distillery in Dublin. They spent €2,161 on balloons for the event. 

The RTÉ commercial division spent thousands more on dinners and lunches at various restaurants – regular mentions were given to French restaurant Dax, Marco Pierre White’s on Dame Street and the Unicorn in Dublin city centre.

Golf outings are also listed, with RTÉ’s former commercial chief Willie O’Reilly mentioned. There was also a charge of more than €18,000 listed as “RTE Fiat”.

These trips included €13,462 on a 2017 golf game in Powerscourt. There was also more than €5,140 spent at McGuirks golf equipment provider for sweaters, golf balls and shoe hire.

RTÉ has said that the use of barter accounts “is commonplace in the advertising industry” as a way of trading advertising space for services.

“They are used by RTÉ solely in the context of its commercial activity of selling advertising airtime,” the broadcaster said .

“A barter account may be used for the purpose of hospitality and entertainment in relation to advertising clients/media agencies to ensure that RTÉ can continue to increase its advertising revenue and to retain it going forward. This is entirely legitimate. Moreover, this model is commonly used by competitors and is standard industry wide.”

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