This Week In Radio 1/7/2023 (The fire is still burning)

Lots happens in the radio industry each week so here’s a summary of the week we just enjoyed.

Here’s What Happened

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We are now well over a week into the mess that is the RTÉ payments controversy. but calling it a payments controversy even feels wrong at this point as it’s expanded into so much more than that.

We’ve had huge statements, hours of testimony’s, and loads of random bits too. We aren’t possibly going to be able to cover everything, so let’s look at just 10 important or interesting points from the RTÉ drama.

1. Who agreed to underwrite Tubridy’s money?

According to RTÉ this was agreed to verbally by the former director general in a teams meeting on the 7th of may 2020. They say there were ongoing conversations about the contract and related side letters between March and July, with the deal officially being executed between the 21st and 24th of July.

2. How much are RTÉ broadcasters earning from the organisation now?

In the interests of transparency, a few RTÉ presenters revealed their fees. Claire Byrne earns €280,000 for her radio show and earned €25,000 for hosting the 10 part TV quiz tournament Ireland’s Smartest. Joe Duffy says he earns €300,000 for radio, and the €51,000 from his most recent published pay is for TV work. Miriam O’Callaghan also says her most recent fee of €263,000 is correct.‬⁩

Separately, Patrick Kielty revealed he is going to earn €250,000 per 30 show season when he takes over The Late Late Show in September. He’s going to earn €20,000 for pre production and rehearsals between now and then, and any additional shows requested by RTÉ will be paid on a pro rata basis.

3. RTEs CFO wasn’t sure of his exact salary

In an awkward exchange at the public accounts committee, the RTÉ CFO was asked for his salary. He seemed reluctant initially saying it was a private matter.

He received a bit of a telling off, and then tried again. He started by saying that he didn’t know the exact figure, but before he got a chance to attempt an answer, he was interrupted again and told off for a second time.

4. Many have spoken about an unhealthy culture at RTÉ

It started with Dee Forbes who spoke of her treatment by the board. Quote tweeting a post about this former 2FM ⁨host Louise McSharry⁩ said the experience “sounds familiar”

Gareth O’Callaghan also spoke about why he says he walked away from RTÉ 17 years ago. It all came down to a sound quality dispute.

5. RTÉ staff held protests

Around 200 RTÉ staff held a protest outside RTÉ in Dublin this week, and there were also protests at offices in Cork, at the RTÉ Lyric FM office in Limerick, as well as staff at Dundalk, Galway, Waterford, Athlone, Belfast and Donegal studios

Many held banners saying “Truth Matters”, while others had banners reading “Pay Cap”. Some also carried banners repeating the word transparency, Transparency ,transparency, transparency at RTÉ.

There was also chanting, what do we want? Answers. SIPTU and the NUJ has a large presence.

6. Tubs ain’t returning to the airwaves for now

RTE have said that Ryan still won’t be returning to his show for editorial reasons, and are avoiding questions about his long term future at the broadcaster.

This one’s a double edged sword as RTÉ don’t want to seem like their backing Ryan 100%, but on the other hand letting him be personable with listeners might have solved a lot of RTE’s problems this week.

Separately there’s a public dispute over the radio element of Ryan’s contract, and there are questions around him having a contract at all. You can read about that here.

7. Are you lying or are you loyal?

Them strong accents can be tough to understand sometimes.

TD Mattie McGrath and interim deputy Director General of RTÉ Adrian Lynch couldn’t seem to understand each other this week, and it in a way shows the tensions of the whole affair.

8. Center Parks aren’t going to renew their sponsorship of Ryan Tubridy on Radio 1

I mean this was probably to be expected, but Center Parks have made it clear to RTÉ that they won’t be renewing their sponsorship deal with the show.

They have also reportedly paused their current sponsorship arrangement.

Sponsors hate the smallest bit of controversy. FreeNow dropped Tommy Tiernan, and it was revealed this week that Department of Health secretary general Robert Watt personally killed off his departments Operation transformation sponsorship.

It’s going to be a real pain for RTÉ as the lack of sponsors will ultimately lead to cuts. Really not good news at all. If the Late Late launches without a sponsor on a new host year, that’s going to be a massive financial blow.

9. It’s the end of the road for Toy Show The Musical

I find this one particularly disappointing as I personally loved the Toy Show Musical when I saw it back in December.

Rory Coveney, Director of Strategy, said that Toy Show The Musical will not run this year. When asked about figures for the musical, he said that they are commercially sensitive but eventually agreed to get back to the committee on it.

It was clear to me even attending the show that it was at an unviable scale, but completely throwing out a uniquely Irish story like this seems a real shame. I’d hope to see it come back in some form in a few years, but for now at least it’s the end of the road.

At least make the music available on streaming services or something. don’t just waste a great thing.

10. We’re not done yet

The committees still want more, with Dee Forbes, Noel Kelly and Ryan Tubridy top of the list for interrogation. It feels like a story that’s far from finished, and looks to be maintaining its position at the top of the news cycle.

There’s loads more to this story including the €120,000 payment to Ryan that never existed, the sports tickets in the barter account, or the union’s reaction to everything. The fact is we simply can’t cover it all. The story has reached an insane level.

What’s next?

Who knows at this point. This story is a rollercoaster so we can only sit back and experience the ride. it’s clear though that this ride won’t have a happy ending, and things are going to be very different when the rollercoaster stops.

Other News In Brief

New Newstalk logo

Newstalk wants to be your friend, isn’t that so sweet? They launched a new advertising campaign to promote the station to new listeners. The campaign , called we’re that friend will be seen across TV, Social and VOD. And yes, in case your like me and wondered if they’ll have ads on RTÉ, they will indeed. The tv campaign will run across RTÉ, Virgin, and Sky.

2FM logo

Sometimes you just have one of those links that doesn’t go according to plan. Tracy Clifford had one of those links bringing her show to a close this week. She crashed the voiceover on the top of hour I’d, and threw in the wrong newsreader name for good measure.

Turns out Conor was presenting the next show though, so its an easy mistake. Just one of those links.

Quick Bits

IMRO Award applications have closed

People are already making bets on who could replace Tubridy

Radio Centre Ireland has won a Global Design Award

Bláthnaid Treacy has had a baby🎉congratulations🎉

And that’s the summary for this week. Come back to radio land next week for more radio news📻 and be sure to check us out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for more fun from the world of radio.