herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

TD calls for €60 cut in licence fee as RTE keeps salaries under wraps

The RTE campus at Montrose
The RTE campus at Montrose
Patrick O'Donovan

A member of the Dail’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has called for a €60 cut in the television licence fee after RTE refused to divulge details of the salaries and expenses paid to its top earners.

Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan has criticised the national broadcaster over its pay policy and said the public are entitled to know the exact salaries and expenses paid to RTE presenters. RTE only releases details of the earnings of staff and contractors every two years, despite being heavily funded by the taxpayer. The station’s pay policy has been criticised within Fine Gael circles on several occasions in the past.

Mr O’Donovan, a TD for Limerick, lodged an appeal with RTE after the station only provided figures relating to fees paid in 2013 following a freedom of information request.

The appeal was rejected.

RTE said two presenters are paid between €400,000-€500,000 per annum, while one is paid between €300,000-€400,000. A further two earn between €200,000-€300,000, while seven contractors earn between €150,000-€200,000.

Five RTE staff members earn between €200,000-€250,000. No staff member earns above this level, the broadcaster said.

Details

Mr O’Donovan said it is completely unacceptable for the station to “withhold” salary details relating to 2015.

“The public have a right to expect full transparency from all elements of the public service. Why should there be an exception for RTE given the level of subsidy provided by hard-working families?” Mr O’Donovan said.

The Fine Gael TD said he believes the licence fee should be cut from €160 to €100.

RTE said it has made significant reductions in the fees paid out.

1hn 1 Patrick O1Donovan (Read-Only).png
 Patrick O’Donovan

“With regards to top presenters, as stated a number of times, RTE has reduced its top-talent fees by in excess of 30pc since 2008.

“This has been achieved as part of an overall reduction in its operating costs by almost €130 million over the same period,” a spokesman said.

 “RTE recently reported a break-even figure for the second year in a row. The independent New Era Review, commissioned by Government and published earlier this year, concluded that RTE is one of the most efficiently run public service broadcasters in Europe.

“It also concluded that Ireland has one the lowest Licence Fees in Europe,” the broadcaster added.

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