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RTE says sorry after it admits paying Ryan Tubridy more than it declared

The Irish broadcaster has apologised and said the situation is a serious breach of trust.
Ryan Tubridy (PA)
Ryan Tubridy (PA) / PA Archive
22 June 2023

TE has apologised after the broadcaster admitted paying former The Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy more over several years than it had previously declared.

In a statement, the board of the Irish national broadcaster said that between 2017 and 2022, Mr Tubridy received a series of payments totalling hundreds of thousands of euros above his annual published salary.

The series of payments totalling 345,000 euro were uncovered after the company’s auditors alerted the board to some of the transactions.

It is clear that RTE has fallen short of the high standards that it sets for itself and are expected of it

Arts Minister Catherine Martin said she was “extremely concerned” at what has emerged and will meet with RTE chairwoman Siun Ni Raghallaigh on 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,” she said.

Earlier Ms Ni Raghallaigh said: “This is a matter of profound regret for the board of RTE.

“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 RTE 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.”

Mr Tubridy, who stepped down as host of RTE’s flagship The Late, Late Show earlier this year, is the broadcaster’s highest profile and highest paid presenter.

The RTE statement said in late March of this year during a routine audit of 2022 accounts, an issue was identified in relation to the “transparency of certain payments”.

An auditor was then appointed to carry out an independent fact-finding review.

Mr Tubridy’s previously published remunerations for 2020 and 2021 show that he earned 466,250 euro and 440,000 euro respectively across those years, which appeared to represent an 11% reduction on his 2019 earnings.

However, under a separate agreement, Tubridy was guaranteed by RTE an additional annual income of 75,000 euro in 2020 which was intended to come from a commercial partner.

The statement said the fee due to Tubridy from the commercial partner was guaranteed and underwritten by RTE.

The commercial partner did not renew this agreement for a second year, and since the agreement was guaranteed by RTE, the payments were instead made directly by RTE to Tubridy’s agent.

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

The presenter received two further payments of 75,000 euro each in 2022.

It was these payments that prompted the review.

The statement said RTE then carried out a review of Mr Tubridy’s previously stated remunerations.

It was then discovered that the presenter’s remuneration had been understated by RTE by a figure of 120,000 euro over the contract period of 2017-2019.

The statement said: “The circumstances that led to this understatement by RTE are currently under examination.

“As such, it is necessary for the Board of RTE to correct the public record in relation to Mr Tubridy’s earnings from RTE during the period 2017-2022”.

The RTE board said it considered the public mis-stating of financial information to be a “very serious matter”.

The statement continued: “At the request of the board, RTE has this week conducted an internal review of the reporting of the remuneration of its top 10 most highly paid, on air presenters.

“This review has found that the full cost to RTE of its contracts with the other such on air presenters, has been correctly reported.

“The board has now requested that Grant Thornton review the contracts of RTE’s top 10 most highly paid on air presenters to independently validate that all remuneration figures have been correctly stated and accounted for by RTE.

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

Ms Martin added: “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.”

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