Friday 21 October 2016

RTE forked out over €2m on transport for stars in one year

RTE spent €388,000 on taxi fares around the capital.
RTE spent €388,000 on taxi fares around the capital.
Sharon Ni Bheolain, one of the presenters for Six One News

RTE forked out more than €2m on transport costs including air fares and taxis for employees at home and abroad last year, the Herald can reveal.

Newly-released figures show that the State broadcaster's travel bill jumped by almost 10pc over the previous year.

Among the costs was an increase of €50,000 in taxi usage in Dublin alone, with RTE spending €388,000 on taxi fares around the capital.

Meanwhile, the largest increase in RTE's travel spend was in a section described as 'other expenses' - including road mileage, bus fares and ferry costs - which leapt from €950,000 in 2013 to €1,064,000 in 2014.

The only category of spending where costs decreased was in the 'air fares' category, where it dropped €1,000 to €482,000.

However, despite this RTE blamed the increased spend across the board on the cost of covering the World Cup in Brazil and President Michael D Higgins' state visit to Britain, among other travel in 2014.


The figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show RTE splashed out on employee travel expenses to the tune of €2,004,000 in 2014. The amount spent in 2013 was €1,839,000 in travel expenses in 2013, meaning RTE spent an extra €165,000 in transporting their stars last year.

The figures recorded include RTE employees across all platforms, including its TV, radio and digital sectors.

Overall taxi costs, including fares in the capital and outside Dublin, came to a combined €422,000 in 2014, with the bulk of the extra costs coming in the city.

A spokeswoman for RTE did not provide an explanation for the increased spend on taxi fares last night. Nor did she specifically explain the increased spending in the 'other expenses' category.

The increase was partly down to a number of high-profile events that took place overseas, she said.

"During 2014 RTE personnel had to travel to cover key events of national importance, including the World Cup, the State visit of the president to the UK and European soccer qualifiers," the spokeswoman said in a statement.

"Providing live coverage of these, and other events, necessitated additional travel, both at home and abroad, and this is reflected in the increased travel expenditure."

Asked about the overseas events contributing to the increased costs despite the decrease in spending on air fares, the spokeswoman said that she had nothing further to add to the statement. The statement insisted that RTE has been proven to be "efficiently run".

"In overall terms RTE has reduced its operating cost by almost €130m since 2008. During this period RTE has also been subject to extensive independent review, including a review by New Era which found RTE to be efficiently run," it said.

Meanwhile, RTE spent more than €425,000 on getting its TV stars suited and booted last year. The station spent €207,687 on clothes, shoes and accessories to keep their on-screen talent looking polished. RTE's entertainment shows, including Miriam O'Callaghan's chat show, racked up bills of €60,212.

The News and Current Affairs department was a close second with a bill of €51,127.

The station's flagship soap, Fair City, which has roughly 22 stars going through the wardrobe department on a daily basis, clocked up a price tag of almost €58,000.

Ryan Tubridy's Late Late Show spent €20,689 on outfits for on-screen talent. This is double the €9,519 they spent last year.

RTE One's flagship news programmes - the One, Six and Nine O'Clock bulletins - also had a hefty price tag, with the taxpayer footing a wardrobe bill of just over €28,000 for clothes and shoes for the country's most popular newsreaders.


Children's news programme News2Day had a relatively modest bill of just €982 for the two presenters.

RTE said the wardrobe department provided a valuable service for 52 users on a daily basis, which included the Fair City ensemble of 22 and 30 from other departments.

They pointed out the costs for 2014 reflected a 3pc decrease on the bill from the year prior.

The State broadcaster also paid clothing allowances of €143,733 to 231 staff members last year.

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