Ryan Tubridy highest paid at RTÉ as top 10 presenters receive more than €3m

George Hamilton rejoins list, while Mary Wilson makes it four women for first time

Ryan Tubridy, RTÉ’s highest-paid presenter, pictured outside Number 10 Downing Street, London, in October.

Ryan Tubridy, RTÉ’s highest-paid presenter, pictured outside Number 10 Downing Street, London, in October.


Ryan Tubridy remained the highest-paid presenter at RTÉ in 2016 with a pay packet of €495,000, ahead of Ray D’Arcy, whose pay increased €50,000 to €450,000, new figures from RTÉ show.

Mr Tubridy, the Late Late Show and radio host, has been the best-paid person at Montrose since the departure of Pat Kenny from the broadcaster, while Mr D’Arcy has been in second place since rejoining RTÉ. His pay rise in 2016 is explained by the fact his Saturday night television chat show was only on air for part of 2015.

Both men stayed ahead of Liveline host Joe Duffy, who kept the third spot on the published list of the ten highest-paid presenters, earning €389,988, the same as the year before.

RTÉ said the 2016 figures represented a 32 per cent reduction on the fees paid in 2008. However, total pay for the ten best-paid on-air individuals went up by about €74,000 in 2016 compared to the year before, which took their combined pay bill across the €3 million mark.

Mid-morning current affairs presenter Sean O’Rourke climbed to fourth place with pay of €308,964, up from €290,113 the previous year.

Marian Finucane was the highest-paid woman, receiving €300,617 for her services, up from €295,000 in the last list, while radio and Prime Time presenter Miriam O’Callaghan was paid €299,000, the same as in 2015.

Claire Byrne was paid €216,000, up from €201,500, which put her in sixth place, while Bryan Dobson, who at this point was the co-presenter of the Six-One news bulletin was the seventh-highest paid with pay of €198,146, up slightly from €195,913.

New entries

The top ten is rounded out by two presenters who did not appear on the 2015 list. Soccer commentator George Hamilton rejoins the list in ninth position with pay of €186,195, while Radio 1’s Drivetime presenter Mary Wilson is a new entry in tenth, receiving €185,679.

The addition of Ms Wilson means this is the first time that four of the ten highest-paid presenters have been women.

Mr Dobson’s then co-presenter on the Six-One bulletin, Sharon Ní Bheoláin, is not on the list, however. Ms Ní Bheoláin spoke out about a gender pay gap in RTÉ in 2017 following reports on a similar imbalance at the BBC.

Former Westlife singer turned 2fm DJ Nicky Byrne, who was paid €200,583 in 2015 and was eighth-placed, does not appear in the 2016 top ten. In 2015, he presented the National Lottery game show the Million Euro Challenge, which did not return the following year.

Sports presenter Darragh Moloney, who was paid €188,803 in 2015, also fell off the list, suggesting he was paid less than this sum in 2016.

Mr O’Rourke, Mr Dobson and Ms Wilson are all employees of RTÉ, meaning their figures include an employer pension contribution, while the rest of the top ten are contractors who are paid for their services through their companies.

RTÉ director-general Dee Forbes said the broadcaster continued to exceed its public commitment on the issue of top presenter pay.

‘Area of focus’

“The audited figures released today for 2016 sees RTÉ maintain our commitment to reduce these earnings by 30 per cent as compared to 2008 levels, while continuing to value the significant contribution our presenters make, and to RTÉ’s ability to optimise commercial revenue to support Ireland’s public media,” she said.

The issue will continue to be “an area of focus for me”, Ms Forbes added.

“Within a challenging marketplace and in the absence of meaningful funding reform, we are making significant efforts to reduce costs across the organisation, in addition to the considerable reduction in operating costs implemented since 2008.”

RTÉ noted that the top ten presenter earnings represents less than 1 per cent of RTÉ’s total operating costs and less than 2 per cent of total personnel costs in 2016, a year in which it recorded a deficit of €19.7 million.

The broadcaster has been criticised in 2018 for “inconsistencies” in how it pays people. A report by law firm Eversheds Sutherland found that more than 100 people paid as contractors had “attributes akin to employment” and should have their status reviewed.

The National Union of Journalists also said this week that it would seek a meeting with RTÉ management to discuss concerns relating to the offering of five-year, fixed-term contracts for special correspondent positions within RTÉ News.