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RTE publishes list of 10 highest-paid presenters for 2022

RTE has published the earnings of its 10 highest-paid presenters for 2022, showing that Ryan Tubridy earned 515,000 euro (£439,950).

The list is to be published annually following a controversy last year where the Irish public service broadcaster admitted misstating the fees it paid to its former star presenter.

On June 22, RTE revealed it had under-declared fees to Tubridy, prompting a crisis at the company that put a focus on its governance and financial practices.

RTE executives appeared before Oireachtas committees and were grilled over fees and perks for presenters, funds spent on entertainment for commercial clients – and almost 5,000 euro (£4,270) spent on flip flops.

Kevin Bakhurst comments
RTE director-general Kevin Bakhurst said high salaries paid to presenters had been a ‘toxic’ and ‘corrosive’ issue (Niall Carson/PA)

Several reports have been commissioned into events at RTE, the latest of which found there were oversight failures in relation to Toy Show The Musical, which made losses of 2.2 million euro (£1.9 million) after a single season in 2022.

In the wake of rolling controversies, the Irish Government said reforms were needed at the broadcaster to secure interim funding and before any decision on a new long-term funding model for RTE was made.

As part of his reform plan for the cash-strapped station, RTE director-general Kevin Bakhurst pledged to cap salaries at his pay level.

Mr Bakhurst said high salaries paid to RTE presenters had been a “toxic”, “corrosive” issue, and that fees would be negotiated down as their contracts came up for renewal.

The RTE list published on Monday shows that Tubridy, who has begun a new radio show on UK station Virgin Media, earned 515,000 euro (£439,950) in 2022.

Liveline presenter Joe Duffy was the second-highest earner, on 351,000 euro (£299,850); Claire Byrne was paid 320,833 euro (£274,000); Miriam O’Callaghan earned 263,500 euro (£225,100) and Ray D’Arcy received 250,000 euro (£213,570).

Presenter Brendan O’Connor earned 245,004 euro (£209,300); News at One presenter Bryan Dobson, who announced he is to retire in April, was on 209,681 euro (£179,125); Morning Ireland presenter Mary Wilson received 197,643 euro (£168,840); sports presenter Darragh Maloney earned 184,501 euro (£157,615); and environment correspondent George Lee was paid 179,821 (£153,615).

RTE also restated their fees for 2021 on Monday, with all contractors earning the same amount as in 2022 apart from Byrne, who earned 350,000 euro (£299,000) in 2021.

All staffers on the top 10 earners list were paid slightly less in 2021 than the following year, with Dobson on 209,282 euro (£178,785), Wilson on 196,961 euro (£168,260), Maloney on 183,738 euro (£156,960) and Lee on 179,131 euro (£153,000).

Oliver Callan, who is taking over Tubridy’s weekday radio show for 150,000 euro (£128,140) a year, said this salary could put him in the top 10 earners list in the coming years.

He said he had asked to discuss certain aspects of the contract but the answer was “generally ‘no’” and added that it marked “the first post-new RTE contract”.

RTE said the cost of its highest-earning presenters represents less than 1% of its total operating costs.

RTE deputy director-general Adrian Lynch said: “Today we are publishing the total earnings from RTE by our highest-paid presenters for 2022, along with the restated earnings for 2021.

“As previously confirmed by Kevin Bakhurst, going forward details of RTE’s highest-paid presenters will be published annually as part of RTE’s annual report, starting with RTE’s 2023 annual report, which will be published later this year.

“While RTE has committed to reducing the cost of its highest-paid presenters to ensure that no contractors or employees will earn more than the director-general, our presenters play an important role in RTE’s provision of vital news, information and entertainment to audiences right across the country and enable us to generate commercial revenue which is essential to fund RTE’s public services.”

Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan said that there is a changed environment in RTE.

Mr Ryan said: “I wish Oliver Callan good luck. He started this morning and I think his contract terms show there is a changed environment in terms of what people may be expected to be paid.

“I am a supporter of RTE and other media organisations. We need good quality journalism in a world with so much disinformation and fake news.”

Asked whether there is a split in the Government on how to reform RTE’s funding model, Mr Ryan said a decision will be made in the first half of this year.

The Government is considering whether to reform the current TV licence or pay for it through direct exchequer funding.

“We will sort out that funding arrangement, we have to this first half of this year. I’ve always said having a solution is the first absolute requirement and I’m convinced Government and all three parties will work together to deliver that,” he said.