RTÉ may sell off €1.2m studio amid calls to cut salaries of top stars to ease crisis

Communications Minister Richard Bruton has told RTÉ to examine cutting the salaries of some of its top stars, including those who earn nearly €300,000 more than the Taoiseach.

Mr Bruton was speaking amid ongoing debate about the funding crisis at the national broadcaster after it emerged RTÉ was seeking an additional €55m in taxpayer funding to plug the hole in its finances.

RTÉ director general Dee Forbes recently told staff the station’s financial situation was “not like anything we have seen before”.

She has commissioned a review to analyse ways of dealing with its financial crisis amid fears of redundancies and pay cuts, the results of which are due next month.

The broadcaster’s top 10 earners collectively took in just under €3m in fees in 2016.

‘Late Late Show’ presenter and radio host Ryan Tubridy had the highest pay, earning €495,000 in 2016, the same amount as in 2015. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar earns just over €200,000 a year.

Mr Bruton told RTÉ Radio 1’s ‘This Week’ that those who say there is no justification for presenters earning more than the Taoiseach had a valid point.

“I think the Oireachtas has often voiced its concern around this when RTÉ have been before them,” he said.

“I think the response of RTÉ is that some of these key performers are very important in winning audience share. I think they have to test that proposition.

“I think if we are seeing significant transformation, I’ve no doubt they will be looking at that area as well as other areas in seeking to evolve a new future.”

Independent Senator Rónán Mullen said last week he intends to bring forward legislation in the next Seanad term which would link the pay of RTÉ broadcasters, producers and researchers to public service pay scales.

Meanwhile, RTÉ was keeping tight-lipped on reports alleging it is gearing up to sell its €1.2m Cork campus and more of its lands at Dublin’s Donnybrook in a bid to raise extra cash. According to the ‘Mail on Sunday’, the media organisation is selling off its Cork studio, which has housed the ‘Today With Maura and Dáithí’ show since its launch in 2012. John Creedon also broadcasts his radio show from there.

It opened in 1995 and is currently RTÉ’s only major studio operating outside Dublin.

Property experts say the four-storey building on Father Mathew Street could raise up to €1.5m on the open market, but its loss would come as a huge blow to the city.

When asked to respond to the reports of a possible sale, an RTÉ spokesperson said the company is “finalising a review of everything we currently do” and will give more details in the coming weeks.

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