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Just €2 each to feed Frontline guests in cutbacks

Producers of Pat Kenny's new show Frontline will have only €2 a head to spend on sandwiches and refreshments for audience members.

The news comes after the programme's editor, Dave Lally, jokingly told the audience at last Monday's debut show that cheap sandwiches and light refreshments were all they could offer in the recession.

The show treated members to about six platters of sandwiches, along with tea, coffee and soft drinks ahead of its first broadcast.

An RTE spokesperson has told the Herald that Kenny's audiences will be served cheaper snacks and refreshments over the next 40 weeks -- a far cry from the lavish hospitality it gave to audiences of Kenny's Late Late Show.

RTE has spent large amounts on refreshments in the past, with hospitality for the Late Late's 2005-2006 season amounting to €80,000.

All guests on the Late Late Show were entertained at a cost of about €2,000 per episode between 2005 and 2006.

But, on Frontline, about €375 will be spent on audience hospitality per episode this year.

Audience hospitality at the now-defunct Tubridy Tonight cost an average €957 per episode, and hospitality for the whole series cost €22,011.

The recession is gnawing into the stations hospitality budget and a spokesperson said it is managing to keep costs down, even though Frontline has a larger audience than its predecessor, Questions and Answers.

A spokesperson said: "The cost of [hospitality] would amount to approximately €2 to €2.50 per head.

"While the audience is double that of the Questions and Answers, we are managing to keep the cost per head less than it was as part of overall cutbacks throughout RTE."