Independent Senator Rónán Mullen says he will introduce legislation to end the payment of excessive salaries to broadcasters in public service organisations by linking the pay of broadcasters, producers and researchers to public service pay scales.
Senator Mullen’s proposal comes in the wake of a warning from Director General of RTE, Dee Forbes, that the financial situation at the station is “unlike anything it has seen before”.
Amongst RTÉ’s top earners are Ryan Tubridy who earned €495,000 in 2016, while Ray D’Arcy costs the station €450,000 a year.
Joe Duffy earns €389,988, while Marian Finucane receives €300,617 for her two weekend chat programmes.
Senator Mullen said he has sent a detailed brief to the Office of Parliamentary Legal Advisers to scope out the constitutional, policy and legislative dimensions of his proposal ahead of its introduction in the Seanad.
“This proposal comes amidst dire warnings from RTÉ about its precarious financial situation, the Government’s plan to introduce a ‘device independent broadcasting charge’ and ongoing public concern about the payment of excessive salaries to celebrity broadcasters and others,” he said.
“It has never been established that particular individuals provide such indispensable service to the nation that fees of €300k or €400k are unavoidable. A cap on salaries in RTÉ would lead to better value for private as well as public sector broadcasters by preventing taxpayer-funded pay and advertising cost inflation. This move will not necessarily threaten the quality of RTÉ’s service or diminish its pool of ‘talent’.
“It does not ever seem to occur to RTÉ bosses or Government policymakers that fame on the airwaves already brings the advantage of being able to charge large speaking or corporate appearance fees on top of salaries,” Senator Mullen added.
“I expect to receive cross-party support for this proposal. No person, regardless of how famous, should be paid massive fees for a public broadcasting role,” he concluded.