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Minister Martin “extremely concerned” as RTÉ admits paying Tubridy additional €345,000 between 2017-2022
22 Jun 2023 : Nathan Griffin
National Broadcaster, RTÉ.
RTÉ has admitted to paying its top paid presenter Ryan Tubridy several hundred thousand euro more than declared to the public and the Oireachtas over a six year period.

In a statement issued by the national broadcaster, the RTÉ Board made the admission that former Late Late Host, Ryan Tubridy received a series of additional payments totalling €345,000 between 2017 and 2022, that were not part of his published annual salary.

According to the statement, the payments were said to have been uncovered when the company’s auditors alerted the Board to some unusual transactions.

“On receipt of this information, the Audit and Risk Committee of the RTÉ Board promptly commissioned Grant Thornton to carry out an independent fact-finding review on the matter in question.

“The facts have been established. The review was completed, and findings furnished to the Audit and Risk Committee of RTÉ on Friday last and discussed on Monday of this week by the Board of RTÉ.”

These findings revealed that in an effort to uphold the the national broadcaster’s 2019 commitment to reduce it’s top presenters salaries by 15%, which publically saw Tubridy’s salary reduced by 11% (2020: €466,250, 2021: €440,000), RTÉ entered into a separate agreement that saw the presenter guaranteed an additional annual income of €75,000 by RTÉ, which was intended to come from a commercial partner.

“In making an agreement with the commercial partner, RTÉ concluded it on a cost neutral basis to the commercial partner, and the fee due to Mr. Tubridy was guaranteed and underwritten by RTÉ.”

“Accordingly, under the terms of this agreement, a payment of €75,000 was received by Mr. Tubridy in July 2020 from a commercial partner, in exchange for a number of personal appearances a year.”

“As part of this agreement, RTÉ in turn issued a credit note to the commercial partner thereby reducing the cost to it of its overall sponsorship arrangement with the organisation.”

“The commercial partner did not renew this agreement for a second year, and since the agreement was guaranteed and underwritten by RTÉ, the payments were instead made directly by RTÉ to Mr. Tubridy’s agent (on his behalf).”

As such, Mr. Tubridy received two payments of €75,000 (totalling €150,000), each in 2022 (being a payment for 2021 and a payment for 2022), with €18,750 of that relating to earnings from the first quarter of 2023.

It was these payments that allegedly prompted the review by Grant Thornton.

“These payments were recorded in the RTÉ Barter Account in 2022 at a value of €115,380 each.” A Barter account is most commonly used in the advertising and marketing section as a platform to allow the exchange money for goods and services.

According to the statement, “In addition and following the furnishing of the findings of the Grant Thornton review, RTÉ carried out a review of Mr. Tubridy’s previously stated remunerations. Through this review, it was identified that Mr. Tubridy’s remuneration had been understated by RTÉ by a figure of €120,000 over the contract period of 2017-2019.”

“The circumstances that led to this understatement by RTÉ are currently under examination,” it added.

The Board stated that it was necessary “to correct the public record in relation to Mr. Tubridy’s earnings from RTÉ during the period 2017-2022.”

The RTÉ Board also stated that it “considers the public misstating of RTÉ’s financial information to be a very serious matter and has moved as quickly as it could, once it had independently established the facts, to publish the correct figures.”

Minster’s Statement
Following the statement, the Minster for the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin T.D. issued a response: “I was advised in March 2023 that an issue had come to light in the course of the audit of the RTÉ 2022 accounts, and that a fact finding review had been commissioned by the Audit and Risk Committee of the RTÉ Board.”

“I am extremely concerned at the details which were contained in RTÉ’s statement today, on foot of that review being completed.

I have spoken with the RTÉ Chairperson today, and have subsequently written to her requesting that she meet with me and officials of the Department. The meeting has been arranged for Monday.

“I have asked the Chair to set out in that meeting, in detail, the issues involved, the steps the Board is taking to deal with the matter, the follow on action that will be required, and the timeline for these actions.”

“The public rightly expect much higher standards of transparency and accountability from Ireland’s Public Service Broadcaster. It is unacceptable that these have not been met.  It will be critical for the Board to identify whether there are wider governance issues that need to be examined and addressed, and to ensure that there is appropriate accountability for what has occurred. It will be equally important for the Board to demonstrate that it is putting in place appropriate structures and processes to prevent a recurrence of a matter of this nature.”

Outcomes
According to the statement issued today, The Board has requested that Grant Thornton review the contracts of RTÉ’s top 10 most highly paid on air presenters to independently validate that all remuneration figures have been correctly stated and accounted for by RTÉ.

Grant Thornton will also review the understatement by RTÉ of Mr. Tubridy’s published remuneration by €120,000 in the period 2017-2019.

“The Board is committed to ensuring that there is appropriate accountability for what has occurred. That process is ongoing, mindful of individuals’ rights, and affording them due process.”

Also, The Board has announced that it has “put steps in place to ensure there is no recurrence of these matters”.

These steps include:

·      “An internal review of contracts for the top 10 most highly paid on air presenters (now complete) and an external, independent review of the reported remuneration for the top 10 most highly paid on air presenters (soon to commence by Grant Thornton).

·      “Republishing the remunerations paid to Mr. Tubridy since 2017 in order to correct the record (as above).

·      “The pausing of all new material on air presenter contracts until the following processes are in place:

o   “The Remuneration Committee of the Board to have full oversight and approval of the terms of contracts relating to the top 10 most highly paid on air presenters in value and any material variations or amendments to those contracts.”

o   “Bringing the Barter Account within the control of the Finance function and that specific controls are put in place to the operation of that account by RTÉ.”

Chair of the RTÉ Board Siún Ní Raghallaigh stated that “this is a matter of profound regret” for the Board of RTÉ.

“We are well aware that this is a serious breach of trust with the public. On behalf of the Board, I wish to apologise for what has occurred. It is clear that RTÉ has fallen short of the high standards that it sets for itself and are expected of it. Once these issues came to light, we acted expeditiously to establish the facts and we are confident that the safeguards we have now put in place will ensure that nothing like this will happen again, and that good corporate governance is adhered to at all times.”





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