RTE insists Ray 'good value' at €400k
RTE insisted station star Ray D'Arcy was "value for money" as it was revealed the broadcaster pulls in an annual salary of €400,000.
D'Arcy returned to the station in 2015 to much fanfare and is now the second-highest-paid presenter in Montrose behind Late Late host Ryan Tubridy.
Figures released by RTE yesterday show that Tubridy remains the highest earner with an annual salary of €495,000.
RTE Director General Dee Forbes released the list of the top ten earners amid growing pressure to address the gender pay gap and issues of transparency at the station.
Recently released figures show that the national broadcaster incurred a €19.6m deficit last year, which poses questions over the sustainability of such high salaries for the big earners.
However, last night RTE Group Commercial Director Willie O'Reilly defended Mr D'Arcy's salary.
"He is now on less than he was when he was in his previous employment [on Today FM] and he is doing radio five days a week and television on a Saturday night," Mr O'Reilly said. "RTE has got Ray to our station at less than he was getting elsewhere."
Asked if he thought this represented good value for money he said: "I think it is, yes."
One of the issues at the centre of the pay row centred on the gender pay gap.
Sharon Ni Bheolain recently aired her dissatisfaction that she earns €80,000 less than her co-anchor Bryan Dobson.
Meanwhile, 2FM's Nicky Byrne is on a salary of more than €200,000 while his co-host Jenny Greene failed to make it on to the top ten list.
It must be noted, however, that Byrne's salary is composite and reflects his work on both radio and television.
"These things are pretty indivisible but often it is to do with work load... it is to do with talent and an assessment of contribution," Mr O'Reilly told RTE's Drivetime.
Asked by host John Murray if this meant that RTE considered some presenters more talented than others, O'Reilly said: "I am saying someone has made that assessment yes - does that shock you?
"When you join RTE as staff it is a gender-neutral pay scale... But when you go in front of the microphone it all changes and when you host a programme it changes again."
He said listenership figures, time on air and work load were all factors in salaries.
O'Reilly also suggested that RTE stars could face pay cuts in the coming months.
"[Salaries] will remain under scrutiny and will be an agenda item for reform. I would suggest that if RTE is going to shrink... that in time these [salaries] may shrink too."
Meanwhile, it has emerged that RTE is holding off on publishing full details of the gap between its male and female workers' pay despite a demand by staff for full transparency.
Education Correspondent Emma O'Kelly revealed she has not received a response to a request to give a breakdown of earnings across the station based on gender.
Ms O'Kelly, who is also Chair of the Dublin Broadcasting Branch of the National Union of Journalists, called on the station to reveal the data after it finally produced a list of what its highest earning stars got two years ago.
Ms O'Kelly, called on the station to also publish a breakdown of pay across all divisions.
"Staff at RTE would like the publication of a breakdown of all remuneration to staff across the organisation - not in a way that would identify people - but a gender breakdown," she said.
She noted that she did not make a Freedom of Information request, so the station could respond more quickly than it is obliged to under the legislation.
It is understood newscasters Bryan Dobson and Sharon Ni Bheolain met for the first time yesterday to discuss pay.
Relations between the pair have remained strong despite Ms Ni Bheolain revealing to the Sunday Independent that she earns up to €80,000 less than Mr Dobson.
Despite the decision by RTE to publish the 2015 figures yesterday, staff who spoke to the Herald last night were still very critical privately.
Among the issues raised include the failure by RTE to publish the top 20 earners instead of ten. This would demonstrate more transparency, sources told this newspaper.