Credit: Gript

Bakhurst “can’t believe” RTÉ’s €80k a year for Fair City photos

RTÉ’s Director General, Kevin Bakhurst, has said that he “can’t believe” that the cash-strapped station is set to spend €80,000 per year on a “dedicated photographer” tasked with taking 16 still photographs a week on the set of the soap opera, Fair City.

Mr Bakhurst was appearing with RTÉ’s Chairperson Siún Ní Raghallaigh at the Oireachtas Media Commitee today to face questioning about the ongoing difficulties in the station which began with revelations around payments made to Late Late Show host, Ryan Tubridy.

Earlier the Director General had announced a recruitment freeze in RTÉ and said that all discretionary spending will be stopped.

“Given the steep fall in the licence fee and the uncertainty over interim funding, it is the only responsible thing that we can do,” he said.

However, at the Oireachtas hearing today Mr Bakhurst  said that RTÉ was “not on the verge of bankruptcy”, adding that he couldn’t run the organisation if it were. “We are in an extremely challenging financial situation,” he acknowledged. “We do have to manage cash very carefully”.

He said that he also found it “shocking in the first place” that RTÉ had membership of an expensive club in London which had not been used for business meetings.

He said the membership was no longer being paid.

Addressing a call to sell the Montrose site, Mr Bakhurst said that everything was under consideration, but that the station was focusing on moving more staff and productions outside of Dublin.

The RTÉ Director General also said that the station expected the loss to the station from licence fee non-payment to “far exceed” the €21 million projected thus far.

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