Because they’re worth it… RTÉ ‘stars’ earnings… our beloved leader and other such stuff… February 29, 2008Posted by WorldbyStorm in Fianna Fáil, media, Television Shows.
You know, it’s hardly a surprise to say that in the past I had quite a bit of sympathy for our beloved leader. There he was, put upon by Tribunal, probes into his financial affairs and his private life. Clearly, upset by all three. But, as time passed and as the drip drip drip of information from that same Tribunal has worked its peculiar magic that sympathy has become – how shall I put it – strained. Yes. Strained is a good word.
It’s fascinating, because I’m fairly certain that when the histories come to be written the matters of the past eighteen or so months will be but footnotes while other achievements will loom large. But them’s the breaks. The general public doesn’t write the history books and the general public is the arbiter of the present. There our beloved leader may well fare rather worse. I’ve noticed that in the past three or four weeks there has been a shift against Ahern in public sentiment. It remains to be seen whether that is significant or merely another will o the wisp.
Either way, reading the pseudonymous Sean Sexton in the latest issue of Magill, while I agree with him in theory that only two dates actually count as regards the future of Ahern, those being the Referendum and the Local Government Elections, the stray thought struck me that other events may well overtake him in the meantime leading to an unhappy conclusion (incidentally, what to make of Derek Fannings curiously edited article in the same issue about “An ashram for Ahern” which charts his off again on again respect for the leader?).
And, remarkably, I felt a faint echo of that sympathy when I read the news yesterday in the Irish Times about how Pat “Kenny keeps top spot in RTÉ earnings list”. Because here is another cause for a bit of upset:
Pat Kenny remains the top earner among RTÉ presenters, earning nearly €850,000 in 2006, according to figures released by the broadcaster today.
Topping the list with earnings of €849,139 was Pat Kenny Media Services. Kenny presents the Late Late Show on Friday nights and a daily morning radio programme on RTÉ Radio 1. He was the station’s top earner for the seventh straight year.
I like that Pat Kenny Media Services. Don’t buy the man, buy the product. But hold on… consider that before Christmas Ahern was attempting to implement wage increases that would see his wage move to about €310,000. Unconscionable? Indeed. Wrong? I said so at the time. Acquisitive? Without doubt.
And while Ahern and the government have snatched the fig leaf of not implementing it this year… well, yes, that will no doubt make a big dent in their expenditure plans… I’d like to see some sustained public pressure to ensure that they don’t pay themselves the increase next year either. Or ever as it happens.
But our ‘leading’ public broadcaster makes almost three times that sum. And he too is paid out of the public purse. But wait… not just him.
Seven of RTÉ’s top ten earners in 2006 were contractors…
Gerry Ryan and Marian Finucane remain in second and third place, unchanged since 2002.
Ryan, presenter of the Gerry Ryan Show on RTÉ 2FM, was paid €558,990 through his company Balcom Management. His salary was €520,685 in 2005.
Finucane’s company, Montrose Services, was paid €455,190 in 2005. Finucane, who switched from a daytime to a weekend show in May 2005, earned €436,413 the previous year.
Is it me, or do these seem stunning salaries for people to be on? I’m curious as to the rationale for them. I mean, I’m as open to the next guy to the argument that struggling actors or suchlike should be paid a bit over the odds because work is hard to find and often sporadic. But Pat Kenny is unlikely to go hungry in the near future. Marian Finucane is hardly going to find mikes being switched off every time she passes by. And there must be a legion of the discontented who would rise up in self-righteous anger should Joe Duffy vanish from our radios at an hour just about perfect to ensure a bit of dyspeptic bile can be brought up for a grateful nations consideration.
Indeed our Joe is no slouch in these matters, and I have to admit that the distance he’s gone from the back of a USI truck parked on O’Connell Street at some protest in the early 1980s (oh, yes, I still remember that) is something to be at least slightly in awe of. Probably for the wrong reason.
Joe Duffy overtook Ryan Tubridy to become RTÉ’s fourth-highest paid presenter. The Liveline star’s Claddaghgreen was paid €367,804 for his services in 2006; Tubridy’s Trocity Productions earned €346,667.
Derek Mooney, who earned €242,408 in 2006, is the highest-paid RTÉ employee on the list.
Trocity Productions you say… and a sum worthy of a lottery ticket. But this one keeps winning, year after year.
Then we descend to the lower reaches of ‘stardom’ to discover: Prime Time presenter Miriam O’Callaghan’s Baby Blue Productions [natch!] (€221,383); John Kelly (€204,675) and Six One News anchor Bryan Dobson (€193,610).
And for those who might, just, barely be argued to be engaging with life at the hard end? Well their raw wattage is obviously diminishing…
[Marty] Whelan and Dobson nudged journalists Tommie Gorman and Charlie Bird out of the top ten in 2006.
Still, not to worry. Whatever about inclement economic weather ahead none of these ‘stars’ need worry (and nor, I’ll bet is Ahern either about next years late implementation of the wage rise – unless he gets the chop). Because as the Irish Times notes:
Tánaiste and Minister for Finance Brian Cowen announced in Budget 2008 that RTÉ will get a 7 per cent increase in its funding this year, from €195 million to €208 million.
Last November, the Government approved a €2 increase in the annual television licence fee, bringing the annual cost to €160.