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RTE to splash out €350k on plush hotels as job cuts loom

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The five-star Merrion Hotel will accommodate RTE guests

The five-star Merrion Hotel will accommodate RTE guests

The five-star Merrion Hotel will accommodate RTE guests

Cash-strapped RTE is set to spend an estimated €350,000 over two years on a string of four- and five-star hotels around Dublin to accommodate celebrities and other contributors appearing on the station.

According to a published contract award, the five-star Merrion, Conrad and Dylan hotels have seen off competition from other five-star hotels around the capital to secure a place on a hotel panel.

It will allow them to accommodate the big names appearing on RTE broadcasts.

Fluctuate

In addition, a number of four-star hotels - the Ballsbridge Hotel, the Clayton Hotel, the Camden Court Hotel, along with the Radisson Blu St Helen's Hotel at Stillorgan and the Talbot Hotel, Stillorgan - have also secured a place on a panel.

The tender said RTE had around 1,150 hotel bookings in 2018, but pointed out this figure can fluctuate annually and is not an indication of booking numbers.

Celebrities will have to pay for their own alcoholic drinks, however.

The tender states that no alcoholic drinks or bar items are to be charged to RTE by the hotels and no additional charges or services are to be charged to RTE.

A spokesman for the national broadcaster said the estimated €350,000 spend "is an accurate estimate for a two-year period".

"However, it is an estimate," the spokesman added.

The spokesman said the final figure "is dependent on RTE's broadcasting schedule and RTE's events programme for the year, which have not been finalised".

"In the case of RTE radio and television programmes, guests are often secured at short notice," he said.

"RTE has successfully negotiated competitive rates with all hotels selected following a public tender, despite inflation in the market."

RTE is satisfied it has achieved value for money in the contract, the spokesman for the station said.

Fair

On the need to have a panel of five-star hotels in place to accommodate the broadcaster's guests, the spokesman said: "Guest requirements vary, with the result that five-star hotel accommodation may be required from time to time."

RTE's financial difficulties see it preparing to cut 200 jobs and impose 15pc salary cuts on some of its best-paid talent as part of efforts to save €60m over three years.

Last month, the broadcaster's director general Dee Forbes insisted that RTE's output at a cost of 44c-a-day to households represents "fair value" when compared to the costs of subscription services such as Netflix.